An American artist, Stanley Whitney has been exploring the formal possibilities of color since mid-1970s. Influenced by a range of sources, including Abstract Expressionism and his African-American heritage, he creates abstract paintings characterized by unexpected cadences of color, rhythm, and space.
Born in Philadelphia in 1946, Whitney currently lives and works in New York City and Parma, Italy. He holds a BFA from Kansas City Art Institute as well as an MFA from Yale University and is currently Professor emeritus of painting and drawing at Tyler School of Art, Temple University. Whitney found himself at odds with the politically and theoretically oriented contemporary scene of the 1970s and 1980s, that expected an African American artist to address the themes of racial and cultural identity. Instead, he was more interested in honing an abstract visual language. He is currently Professor emeritus of painting and drawing at Tyler School of Art, Temple University.
Whitney's early works incorporated patches of color surrounded by areas of empty space, focusing on the power of gesture. Over the years, he shifted his compositions from untethered amorphous forms to the denser stacked arrangements. This nuanced understanding of the relationship between color and geometry was inspired by Roman art and architecture.
Featured image: Stanley Whitney - Untitled, 2018 (detail). Monotype in watercolor and crayon on Lanaquarelle paper. 47 5/8 × 71 5/8 in. 121 × 181.9 cm. This is a unique work. Photo courtesy Two Palms Gallery