Lot 60
  • 60


800,000 - 1,200,000 USD
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  • Jack Whitten
  • Kappa Group II 
  • signed, titled, dated 1976, and variously inscribed on the reverse
  • acrylic on canvas
  • 76 by 64 in. 193 by 162.6 cm.


Robert Miller Gallery, New York
Acquired by the present owner in 1978

Catalogue Note

Reverberating in a monochromatic murmur across the canvas, Jack Whitten’s mesmerizing Kappa Group II stands as a singular achievement of the artist's groundbreaking oeuvre. Originally inspired by the dynamic gestural fervor of Abstract Expressionism, Whitten soon felt the constraints of the movement and began experimenting with sculpture and collage, ultimately creating an entirely unique visual vocabulary. In the 1970s, Whitten embarked on an ambitious series titled the Greek Alphabet, in which he made a painting for each letter of the alphabe. Testament to the significance of Whitten’s output of the mid-1970s, similar Greek Alphabet paintings reside in such renowned museums as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Tate Modern in London, and the Dallas Museum of Art; most notably, the direct sister painting to the present work, Kappa I, resides in the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In its exceptional subtlety, Kappa Group II achieves a nuanced grace that, while impossible to articulate, is intensely alluring to experience; indeed, reflecting upon the larger series in terms highly reminiscent of the present work, the artist describes: “[In] the Greek Alphabet series which starts in 1976 and lasts through 1979…What I discovered is that philosophically I don’t like either/or situations. I prefer neither/nor—that is what the black and white paintings taught me. I found that there was a third entity out there: not black, not white, but existing over there in those greys.” (The artist cited in “In Conversation: Jack Whitten with Jarrett Earnest, The Brooklyn Rail, 1 February 2017)