Lisson Gallery is pleased to present TwentyTwenty, an exhibition of new paintings by Stanley Whitney created over the past year. Color continues to galvanize Whitney’s compositions, each block of pigment dictated by its relationship to the one before it. The artist’s ninth solo exhibition with the gallery advances his exploration of color, and features a return to a horizontal format with dimensions new to Whitney’s enduring body of work. TwentyTwenty precedes two major presentations for Whitney: a new stained-glass commission for the Baltimore Museum of Art (December 2021) and the opening of The Italian Paintings at Palazzo Tiepolo Passi, presented by the Buffalo AKG Art Museum during the Venice Biennale 2022.
Stanley Whitney has explored the dynamics of color for over five decades, honing a signature format of stacked, multi-colored shapes. Early in his career, Whitney featured space in between his marks, seeking a sense of airiness and light within separated zones of color. Over time colors were stacked more intimately, creating a juxtaposition of limitless range and controlled borders. These current configurations were realized amid a move to Italy and visit to Egypt in the mid-1990s. Whitney studied the stratified sarcophagi in Rome’s Etruscan Museum and the relationship between each object on Italian still-life painter Giorgio Morandi’s canvases. It was the perceived humanity within ancient buildings and architecture, Whitney’s consideration of each brick and the order in which they were laid, that led the artist to tighten the structure of his paintings and empower the dialogue between each brick of color to inform the next.
Stanley Whitney’s universal language of dynamic color and improvisational style continues in the new paintings on view. The exhibition incorporates a group of the artist’s trademark square paintings with an arrangement that positions his profound relationship with color on a new pictorial plane. The new series, titled Monk & Munch after the American Jazz pianist Thelonious Monk and Norwegian painter Edvard Munch, translate Whitney’s sequences of color onto a smaller rectangular format. TwentyTwenty, the work for which the exhibition is titled, demonstrates the artist’s passages of color on a monumental scale. Within the conversation between every vibrant hue the artist elicits a rhythmic structure, echoing a musician moving along their sheet music. Whitney’s enthusiasm for music and instinctive cadence is displayed in his execution and even in the titles of additional recent works, including Keep on talkin’ blues (2021) and Blue Note (2020).
TwentyTwenty follows recent presentations of Stanley Whitney’s early work from the 1990s at the gallery’s East Hampton location, and an online exhibition of a group of works on paper from Whitney’s No to Prison Life series, organized in collaboration with Art for Justice Fund, an organization founded by Agnes Gund to drive criminal justice reform.
For the Venice Biennale 2022, Stanley Whitney will open an exhibition at Palazzo Tiepolo Passi, presented by the Buffalo AKG Art Museum (formerly the Albright-Knox Art Gallery). Co-curated by Cathleen Chaffee, Chief Curator, Buffalo AKG Art Museum, and Vincenzo de Bellis, Curator and Associate Director of Programs, Visual Arts, Walker Art Center, the exhibition marks the first time that Whitney will present works that have exclusively been created in Italy—from early works dating to the pivotal years he spent in Rome, to paintings made during subsequent summers spent in his studio near Parma throughout the last three decades. Whitney’s work will be the subject of a major survey exhibition at the Buffalo AKG in Buffalo, NY, USA in 2023-24.
Commissioned by The Baltimore Museum of Art, Stanley Whitney will debut a set of three, large-scale stained-glass windows to be installed inside the new Ruth R. Marder Center for Matisse Studies at the museum. The BMA will unveil the installation and new 2,500-square foot space on December 12, 2021.
Text courtesy of Lisson Gallery
Photo credits: Lisson Gallery and Artnews