The ArtCat calendar is closed as of December 31, 2012. Please visit Filterizer for art recommendations.


Stanley Whitney, Breathing Sound

Esso Gallery
531 West 26th Street, 212-560-9728
October 14 - November 11, 2006
Reception: Saturday, October 14, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

“From one work to the other one, the painter continues to address only one topic, which is neither communicative nor expressive, because it doesn’t claim to communicate something from the outside nor to express something that he has inside, however he makes a coherent speech in continuous development. The world of the painter is made only of affirmative statements, of an apparent inner calm. Certainly, to get to this point, the painter had to exclude a lot, but it’s the only way to keep the things of which he can be sure – and they are very few – and to be able to look at them with confidence and attraction. At least for a moment, because the painter’s eye is always ironic and inquiring and his quiet statements are not other than silent questions formulated with discretion, after which there is nothing else to do but wait for answers that possibly will never come and new questions that certainly will.”

“Who writes admires the painter’s efforts to reach an absolute impersonality, an autonomy of the work from the current conventions, escaping the hated psychology, but starts to get irritated when he sees the road toward impersonality brings the painter back again to the self, being as well the Cartesian self, categorical, grammatical, anonymous. But maybe this is the way to set the self free from the stout heaviness of the personal autobiography. The painter creates his own system of communication, a painting’s inner code, a supporting structure that the interpreter has to find and characterize, an unknown foundation of rules that supports the organization and the composition of his work.”

“All of Stanley Whitney’s work takes off from the assumption that painting is a whole, complete and definite, a building to which he doesn’t pretend to add anything. In a period in which it is easy to be an iconoclast, he distinguishes himself for the respect that he brings to painting, for the loyalty to the painter’s profession in it’s more humble elements, for the unpretentiousness, and, together with the certainty in which he lines up new works in the very narrow edge that remains of a creative activity reduced to the analysis of itself.”

“The fact that his own work is not one but multiple worries the painter, it obliges him to make new works that could contain the previous ones, that could unify them and together would confirm them as distinct. In the interval between one work and the next, time enters the painter’s work, time to which it is difficult to give a shape that is not that of an autobiography. Each progressive work points out a direction, a relationship of consequence and a pause of detachment in the movement of the mind. His paintings, set one after the other, become a story. They recount the story of the painter thinking and making this work after the other one and before the next one. Later the painter goes back to the canvas from where he started; the geometrical squaring in a grid of colors; the picture that contains all pictures.”

“Stanley Whitney’s painting is the entirety at which nothing can be added and at the same time the potentiality that implies everything that can be painted.”

Filippo Fossati, excerpted from Notes on Stanley Whitney’s work, in 3 American Painters, Cabuttaldi Editore, Bossolasco Italy 2006
Have photos of this show? Tag them with artcal-3275 to see them here.