19
19
Jack Whitten
FLAT PLATE MONOPRINT #3
Estimate
25,00035,000
LOT SOLD. 47,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT
19
Jack Whitten
FLAT PLATE MONOPRINT #3
Estimate
25,00035,000
LOT SOLD. 47,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Curated

|
New York

Jack Whitten
1939 - 2018
FLAT PLATE MONOPRINT #3
signed, titled and dated '74 on the reverse
toner on paper
17 by 15 in. 43.2 by 38.1 cm.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Alexander Grey Associates, New York
Private Collection, London
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Catalogue Note

Flat Plate Monoprint #3 is one of a small series of works from the 1970s that Whitten made in preparation for his seminal Greek Alphabet paintings, a series recently shown at the Met Breuer as a central part of the artist’s long overdue and critically acclaimed retrospective. The title of the Flat Plate Monoprint series is a misnomer – not only are the works unique but they are not prints, rather works on paper executed through the application of loose toner to the sheet. Art historian Kellie Jones has commented with regard to the artist’s later work that “what distinguishes Whitten from his peers … was his invention of processes and tools for painting. In 1970 he made a decision to let go of the brush and remove the marks of the hand from the canvas. He created … a variety of objects with which to manipulate or intercede” (Kellie Jones, ‘To The Max: Energy and Experiment’, in Eye Minded: Living and Writing Contemporary Art, Durham, North Carolina 2011, p.374). Duly, the present work sees Whitten use a series of techniques to distribute the toner, including the application of rollers to create tonal variation, rubbing with a cloth to create hard edges, and the raking of a stylus across the surface of the work to make the thin lines that cut across the composition.

As with all the best of Whitten’s works, beyond the tactile and physical dimension of his practice, Flat Plate Monoprint #3 has a wider frame of reference. These works represent the artist’s movement away from Abstract Expressionism and what Whitten described as the “unwanted baggage” of colour (Jack Whitten, unpublished artist’s statement, cited in: Tanya Barson, “Jack Whitten: Epsilon Group II”, Tate, October 2012, online). Like the Greek Alphabet paintings, the present work has a political dimension, and one that can be tied to contemporary music of the 1970s. Speaking of a meeting with John Coltrane in the mid-‘60s, Whitten said that he admired him  for thinking of sound as emerging in “sheets”, and shortly before the execution of the present work Whitten made a final series of colourful paintings which saw him pull swathes of roughly mixed colour across the surface of the canvas in a fashion analogous to Gerhard Richter’s abstract works, which the German master commenced a decade later (Jack Whitten cited in: op. cit. p. 373). He thought of this series as a tactile manifestation of Coltrane’s sheets of sound. Following the jazz analogy, Tanya Barson points out with regard to one of the Greek Alphabet paintings that “the seemingly arbitrary diagonal ‘interruptions’ across the canvas… might be likened to the improvisations that characterise ‘bebop’ and ‘free jazz’”, and there can be no doubt that the association of jazz music also applies the lines cutting through to the present work in every direction (Barson, op. cit.).

 

Contemporary Curated

|
New York