Jack Whitten USA, 1939-2018


"I can do anytihing I want to do. I'm not a narrative painter."

—Jack Whitten

Jack Whitten was an American abstract artist who believed meaning and information were embedded in the materials he used to create his works. Whitten was influenced greatly by his experiences as an activist during the Civil Rights Movement. Though he considered his works to be fundamentally abstract, he strived to convey a certain essence in each of the pieces he made. For example, his renowned Black Monolith series features paintings made in homage of heroes of Black culture.


Whitten believed strongly that one of the most profound and destructive legacies of the enslavement of Black people was the interuption, and outright destruction, of Africal diasporal culture. He considered it his responsibility to devote his life and art towards the restoration of that culture.


Whitten's work has been exhibited in solo retrospectives at The Met Breuer, NY; The Baltimore Museum of Art, MD; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Walker Art Center, MN; The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, CT; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, CA; and MoMA PS1, NY, among others. His works are in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, IL; The Museum of Modern Art in New York; and the Cleveland Museum of Art, OH, among many others.