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  • Provenance

    Lisson Gallery, London
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    “The colour makes the structure,” he said. “I wanted a system that allowed me to lay colour down when I felt like it—I wanted nothing to get in my way. When I start these paintings, I have no idea what it’s going to be. I don’t start with a sketch or an idea. I start by laying as much colour down as I possibly can. Once I’ve laid it all out and see what I have, then I start to mentally engage and figure out what I think is working and what I don’t.” (The artist quoted in Aruna D’Souza, ‘The Colour Makes the Structure: Stanley Whitney Paints a Picture’, artnews.com, posted 30 May 2017.)

    Stanley Whitney is a true believer in the unification of colour and spatial experience. Since the mid-1970s, the artist’s characteristic colourful grids have represented his artistic philosophy. Breathless is a canvas solely dedicated to the manipulation of hues — Whitney provides the ultimate stage for colours to shine and speak for themselves. As noted by Lauren Haynes, “Whitney’s colours take on lives of their own. They evoke memory and nostalgia. This orange takes you back to your favourite childhood t-shirt; that blue reminds you of your grandmother’s kitchen. Whitney’s paintings remind us, on a universal scale, of the ability of colour to trigger feelings and sensations.” (Lauren Haynes, ‘Orange That Blue’, Stanley Whitney: Dance the Orange, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, 2015, p. 28).

    Whilst Whitney has been an active proponent of colour field painting since the 1970s, the artist has operated largely under the radar for much of his career. However, recent institutional attention has affirmed his historic importance within wider public consciousness: following his seminal solo exhibition, Dance the Orange at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York in 2015, Whitney was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2017.

    Whitney’s style of composing colours is greatly inspired by the structure of abstract architectural blocks. Profoundly influenced by ancient Egyptian architecture that he saw during a trip to the Mediterranean in the 1990s, Whitney’s admiration for the uniformity of the ancient pillars is reflected through his preference towards straight edges in his works. The incessant rectangular configuration in his compositions also worked as a perfect manifesto of the painter’s determination on creating an absolute ‘balanced’ space for colour within his canvases. On his choices of colour, the artists in an interview explains:
    “It’s all about the transitions between the colours—the blue shouldn’t get away from the orange. That has a lot to do with drawing and scale as much as it does with colour. The difficulty for me in making these paintings is, if you fall in love with this red, can you get out of that red so that everything equals out and there’s no beginning or no end to it all?” (The artist quoted in Aruna D’Souza, ‘The Colour Makes the Structure: Stanley Whitney Paints a Picture’, artnews.com, posted 30 May 2017.)

    Rendered in varied brushstrokes, the artist layers transparent swathes of colour so that a grounded red might ring out from underneath a tonally juxtaposed verdant green, creating a sense of chromatic balance within Breathless. This sense of equilibrium produced through the composition conveys a sense of rhythm and harmony reminiscent of Jazz music.

    Born in Philadelphia in 1946, Whitney relocated to New York City at the age of 22, and has played a critical role in the current discourse of abstract painting in the contemporary era. Today, Whitney’s paintings are collected in numerous public institutions around the globe, including: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Madazzino d’Arte Moderna, Rome and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

  • Artist Biography

    Stanley Whitney

    American • 1946

    Inspired by Renaissance painting, Minimalist sculpture and jazz music, Stanley Whitney’s oeuvre has become central to the current discourse of abstract painting in the contemporary era. Following recent solo exhibitions at the Modern Art Museum, Fort Worth and the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, the 72-year-old artist has only just received the critical acclaim he deserves. After moving to New York from Philadelphia at the age of 22, Whitney aligned himself with the Color Field painters, often working in the shadows of his contemporaries including Frank Stella and Kenneth Noland. Throughout the decades that followed, however, the artist soon established himself as a key player in 20th century abstraction, traveling the world and gaining recognition not only in the studio, but also in the classroom, where he has taught Painting and Drawing at the Tyler School of Art for over 30 years. As such, Whitney’s influence extends to a generation of new artists exploring the formal tenants of painting today.

    As Lauren Haynes, curator of Whitney’s solo show at the Studio Museum in 2015, aptly wrote, “Whitney’s work interrogates the connections among colors, how they lead to and away from one another, what memories they are associated with…Whitney’s colors take on lives of their own. They evoke memory and nostalgia. This orange takes you back to your favorite childhood t-shirt; that blue reminds you of your grandmother’s kitchen. Whitney’s paintings remind us, on a universal scale, of the ability of color to trigger feelings and sensations.”

    View More Works

5

Breathless

《屏息》

2018
signed, titled and dated ' "Breathless" 2018, Stanley Whitney' on the reverse
oil on linen
183.1 x 183.1 cm. (72 1/8 x 72 1/8 in.)
Painted in 2018.

Estimate
HK$800,000 - 1,500,000 
€91,400-171,000
$103,000-192,000

Sold for HK$2,375,000

Contact Specialist

Isaure de Viel Castel
Head of Department, 20th Century & Contemporary Art
 

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 26 May 2019