Stanley Whitney - Editions & Works on Paper New York Tuesday, October 24, 2023 | Phillips

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  • “The idea of beauty, the idea of making paintings be very loving in a really not loving time, that can be very political too. I think there are all kinds of ways of being political and you could choose what is the best that suits you… my work has been very political anyway – just who I am, what I do, what it reflects.”
    —Stanley Whitney
    Henri Matisse has served as a creative inspiration for Stanley Whitney, both regarding aesthetics and the relationship between art and times of turmoil. “Sometimes I think about the Picasso painting Guernica and then Matisse making beautiful paintings in Nice during the Nazi occupation—what’s more political?”1 The notion of Matisse painting his sensual work in Nice during World War II, with Nazis in the streets, is a scene which mirrors Whitney painting in the basement of the Kansas City Art Institute as a student in the mid-1960’s, the civil rights movement raging outside. In such creation, Whitney embraces the necessity of beauty amid times of unrest.


    Drawing from Matisse’s visual vocabulary, Untitled, like many of Whitney’s monoprints, recalls the grid motif that reverberates throughout his oeuvre, channeling his admiration of Matisse’s organic line and vivid coloring. Here, Whitney also offers another parallel, to Matisse’s stained-glass windows at the Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence in Southern France, a site to which the artist has made several visits; the hallmark panes of stacked color that comprise the present monoprint, combined with Whitney’s experimental interplay of opacity and transparency, from a unique work as luminous as a decorative chapel window.



    1 Marta Gnyp, “’I Was on My Own’: Stanley Whitney on Finding His Way Through Erasure in the White Art World and Competition Among Black Artists,” Artnet News, January 3, 2022

    • Provenance

      Acquired directly from the publisher in 2017.

    • 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.”

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Monotype in watercolor, on Lanaquarelle paper, the full sheet.
S. 8 1/4 x 10 7/8 in. (21 x 27.6 cm)
Signed and dated in pencil, published by Two Palms Press, New York, framed.

Full Cataloguing

$5,000 - 8,000 

Sold for $13,970

Contact Specialist
212 940 1220

Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 24-26 October 2023