Beginning 28 January 2020, Hauser & Wirth is pleased to present the first major survey of Jack Whitten’s works on paper, spanning the artist’s six decade career. Jack Whitten (1939 – 2018) made it his mission to disrupt the discipline of art history through experiments with material, process, and technique. He effectively constructed a bridge between gestural abstraction and process art, constantly working toward a nuanced language of painting that employs deeply personal expression. Whitten was also a prolific and powerful draughtsman. The unique body of works on view at Hauser & Wirth testifies to the immensity of his commitment to drawing as a means to make manifest his ideas and advance his methods.
‘Jack Whitten. Transitional Space. A Drawing Survey.’ spotlights the artist’s playfulness and improvisational skill in searching for his own special visual language. Paper was more than an effective medium for Whitten; for him, working on paper was akin to scientific research. With an aesthetic hypothesis in mind, he worked tirelessly on paper to both subvert and elevate the history of art and how best to represent the many layers of information packed inside his imagination.
Drawing was an integral part of Whitten’s artistic and technical maturation. His analysis of the properties of different mediums engaged materials as diverse as watercolor, toner, cuttlefish ink, homemade walnut ink, and endless variety of Japanese and specialty papers. The trial-and-error of Whitten’s methodology can be felt through the multiple versions and renditions he created of particular works, many of which served as preliminary studies for subsequent paintings and monumental series.