Winter Rap

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  • Condition Report

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  • Provenance

    Esso Gallery, New York
    Private Collection, Europe
    Private Collection, Asia
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Composed of an enthralling pictorial balance between hue and expression, Winter Rap is an exemplary work of Stanley Whitney’s unique oeuvre, one that has become central to the current discourse of abstract painting in the contemporary era. Celebrated for the mesmerising effects caused by the internal conflicts and resolutions present in his seemingly simple compositions, this paradigmatic work from 2005 encapsulates Whitney’s profound relationship with colour and its spatial effects.

    The composition of the present lot is simple: rectangles of irregular sizes are stacked in four rows, delineated by five horizontal strips running the length of the canvas. Each band contains five to six blocks of colour, applied in a considered palette of lavender, midnight blue, lemon yellow, and various shades of red and off-white, with a sparing amount of intense black thrown into the mix. What initially appears as an abstract grid gives way to a more controlled process upon closer inspection, as Whitney’s freehand brushwork fluctuates between freedom and constraint. While some of the blocks have clear edges that are defined by a distinct brushstroke to keep them from exceeding their boundaries, others mix and overlap. Some rectangles have patches that expose an entirely different colour underneath, such as the pastel purple block in Winter Rap that reveals hints of a previous coat of lime-green. The contrast between flat sections and those that are more gestural and transparent contributes to a layered surface that is both luxurious and matte. The total effect is comforting yet also arresting, as the vibrantly lyrical composition pulsates, sending the eye on a rotating journey as the colours appear to animate and dance around the viewer.

    Whitney has greatly contributed to colour field painting since his move from Philadelphia to New York at the age of 22. Alongside contemporaries such as Frank Stella and Kenneth Noland, Whitney explored the boundaries of pure abstraction with large areas of flat single colours (see for example Frank Stella’s Hyena Stomp, 1962). In the mid-1990s, excursions to the Mediterranean and Egypt convinced Whitney that ancient architecture presented a way to combine structural unity with visual splendor. It was here that Whitney found his “piece of the puzzle” (Aruna D’Souza, “The Colour Makes the Structure: Stanley Whitney Paints a Picture”, ARTNews, 30 May 2017, online). Seeking to find a balance between colour and space on his canvases, the artist began emptying the air and space out of his compositions to bring the planes of colour closer together. The result, colourful stacked rectangles, soon became Whitney’s signature format.

    The present lot, Winter Rap, encapsulates not only this sense of equilibrium, but also the defining themes that have contributed to the artist’s career since the 1970s. Drawing from a wide range of influences including Renaissance painting, early Minimalism and vibrant African-American colour-blocked quilts, the lively placement of colour in the present work also conveys a sense of rhythm and harmony reminiscent of the call-and-response traditions of jazz music. As a self-described ‘process-painter’, the methodological approach Whitney follows is that “colour dictates the structure, not the other way around” (Stanley Whitney, quoted in Stan Mir, “A Painter With a Purpose”, HyperAllergic, 23 March 2019, online). Starting at the top left of a canvas and working his way across and down to the bottom right corner, Whitney’s unique compositional mastery derives from allowing one colour to beckon the next. Following his successful seminal solo exhibition Dance the Orange at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York in 2015, the artist has experienced a deserving ascent to international acclaim and success, confirming the historical significance of his practice.

    As Lauren Haynes, curator of Whitney’s solo show at the Studio Museum in 2015, explained: “Whitney’s work interrogates the connections among colours, how they lead to and away from one another, what memories they are associated with…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)

    Tightened and honed over many years, Whitney’s maturely defined practice has found its place in public collections globally, including the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas, USA; the Philadelphia Museum of Art, USA; the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, both in New York. Furthermore, the artist joined the Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in 1996, before additionally being awarded a Pollock-Frasner Foundation Fellowship in 2002, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Art Award in 2010 and the Robert De Niro Sr. Prize in Painting in 2011. The artist continues to work in New York City and Parma, Italy.

  • Catalogue Essay

    《冬季細語》展現色彩與表現力之間迷人的造型平衡,是斯坦利·惠特尼獨特作品的典範,亦成為當代語境中的抽象繪畫範疇內,極其重要的一件作品。在看似簡單的構圖中,呈現內在衝突和應對,製造出一種令人著迷的效果,這件出自2005年之具代表性的作品囊括了惠特尼與色彩、以及空間效果之間的深刻關係。

    此件拍品的構圖簡潔:不規則的長方形疊成四行,由五個涵蓋畫布長度的水平條狀進行勾勒。每一條由五至六個色塊組成,精心調配薰衣草色、午夜藍、檸檬黃,以及各種深淺的紅色和米白色等一系列色彩,並在這些混合色彩中注入少量厚重的黑色。仔細觀察,可以看到最初看似抽象的方塊隨著惠特尼徒手繪畫的筆法在自由與約束之間波動著,呈現出更有控制力的過程。有的色塊帶著藉由明顯的筆觸來做限定的清晰邊緣,以防止色彩溢出其界限,而有的色塊則交互混合重疊。透過些許長方形上的色塊可以看到其下方完全不同的著色,例如《冬季細語》中的粉紫色色塊,暴露出此前灰綠色塗層的痕跡。扁平的局部與那些更為動態透明的部分之間的對比,讓具有層次感的畫面同時呈現鮮麗和消光的效果。隨著充滿活力的抒情構圖之顫動,色彩紛紛躍身起舞,為觀者的視界展開一場畫面變幻的旅程,總體的效果既舒暢又引人入勝。

    惠特尼自22歲那年從費城移居紐約起,就在色域繪畫的領域做出巨大的貢獻。與同時代的藝術家弗蘭克·斯特拉和肯尼思·諾蘭德等人齊驅,惠特尼以大面積的平面單色來探索純抽象的界限(見弗蘭克·斯特拉的《鬣狗爵士舞》為例,1962年)。1990年代中期於地中海及埃及的遊覽讓惠特尼堅信古代建築擁有一種將結構上的統一與視覺上的壯麗相結合的方法。正是在此,惠特尼找到了他的「答案」(Aruna D’Souza,《色彩成就結構:斯坦利·惠特尼繪畫》,ARTNews,2017年5月30日,截自網路)。 在他的畫布上尋找色彩與空間之間的平衡,藝術家開始清空他在構圖中的空氣和空間,以使色彩平面更為緊密。其結果,彩色的長方形疊塊,很快成為了惠特尼的標誌形式。

    此次拍品,《冬季細語》,不僅囊括了這種均衡感,還承接自1970年代以來對藝術家的職業生涯起著定義性作用的主題。受到包括文藝復興時期的繪畫、早期極簡主義以及生動的非裔美國人的色塊拼布手藝等廣泛影響,這件作品對色彩的生動運用,傳遞了一種節奏感以及類似爵士樂中的對唱傳統的和諧感。自稱是一名「過程畫家」,惠特尼所遵循的方法是「色彩決定著結構,而不是反過來的順序」(斯坦利·惠特尼,引自Stan Mir,《有目的的畫家》,《HyperAllergic》,2019年3月23日,截自網路)。 從畫布的左上角開始朝著右下角進行創作,惠特尼的獨特構圖在於讓一種顏色來喚起下一種顏色。在他2015年於紐約哈林區的畫室博物館成功舉辦之開創性的個展《橘色舞動》之後,藝術家迎來了他當之無愧的國際性讚譽和成功,證明了他藝術創作的歷史意義。

    正如惠特尼2015年在畫室博物館個展的策展人Lauren Haynes所說:「惠特尼的作品審視了色彩之間的聯繫,它們如何互相導向與分離,它們與何種記憶有所關聯...惠特尼的色彩自成一體。它們喚起記憶與懷舊之情。這種橙色將你帶回童年時代最喜歡的T恤;那種藍色讓你回想起祖母的廚房。惠特尼的繪畫讓我們普遍地記起,色彩所具有的觸發情感和感官的能力。」(Lauren Haynes,《橘染藍》,《斯坦利·惠特尼:橘色舞動》,哈林區畫室博物館,紐約,2015年,第28頁)

    經過多年的努力和歷練,惠特尼成熟的藝術展現受到全球諸多公共收藏機構的認可,其中包括堪薩斯市尼爾森·艾金斯美術館,費城美術館;紐約大都會藝術博物館和所羅門·R·古根漢美術館。此外,藝術家還於1996年獲得西蒙·古根漢獎,並在此之前於2002年獲得了Pollock-Frasner基金會獎,2010年獲得美國藝術暨文學學會獎,以及在2011年獲得羅伯特·德尼羅繪畫獎。藝術家仍持續在紐約市和義大利帕爾馬進行創作。

  • Artist Bio

    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.”

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Winter Rap

2005
signed, titled and dated ‘2005 Stanley Whitney “Winter Rap”’ on the reverse
oil on linen
135.8 x 152.6 cm. (53 1/2 x 60 1/8 in.)
Painted in 2005.

Estimate
HK$1,000,000 - 2,000,000 
€116,000-232,000
$128,000-256,000

Place Advance Bid
Contact Specialist
Charlotte Raybaud
Head of Evening Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 24 November 2019