James Little in the Whitney Biennial 2022: Quiet as It’s Kept: Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Critical praise for artist James Little in the 2022 Whitney Biennial:
"In HIS MAGISTERIAL, ALL-BLACK, OIL-AND-WAX “STARS AND STRIPES” (2021), IT’S HARD TO SAY WHETHER THE BARS THAT MAKE UP ITS GEOMETRIC PATTERN ARE CONVERGING OR COLLIDING."
—NEW YORK TIMES
"THREE COMPELLING CANVASES BY JAMES LITTLE, WHOSE WORK IN GEOMETRIC ABSTRACTION—EXECUTED IN OILS MIXED WITH BEESWAX—HINGES ON ITS FEELING OF FREEDOM.
'ABSTRACTION PROVIDED ME WITH SELF-DETERMINATION AND FREE WILL. IT WAS LIBERATING. I DON’T FIND FREEDOM IN ANY OTHER FORM,' [LITTLE HAS] EXPLAINED."
"THREE STUNNING BLACK-AND-GRAY WORKS BY NEW YORK–BASED ARTIST JAMES LITTLE, WHO IS PART OF A COHORT OF BLACK ARTISTS DEDICATED TO ABSTRACTION THAT HAS INCLUDED THE LIKES OF JACK WHITTEN AND STANLEY WHITNEY, COMMAND A WALL. DEPENDING ON WHERE ONE STANDS, THE SHAPES IN THEM FADE INTO THEIR BLACK BACKGROUNDS AND THEN COME BACK INTO CRISP FOCUS."
"YET IN THE WHITNEY SHOW HIS LARGE, MAGNIFICENT, AND QUIET TRIPTYCH OF THREE PAINTINGS, STARS AND STRIPES, EXCEPTIONAL BLACKS, AND BIG SHOT, IS A MAJOR STATEMENT ABOUT WHAT COUNTS IN PAINTING, AND BY IMPLICATION IN ALL ART."
— NEW YORK SUN
(Artist James Little with three of his five paintings in the 2022 Whitney Biennial. Image courtesy James Little and Kavi Gupta.)
2022 Whitney Biennial artist James Little (b. 1952) is an American abstract artist whose distinctive aesthetic language is rooted in geometric shapes and patterns, flat surfaces, and emotive color relationships. Little utilizes a method similar to the encaustic painting technique used by ancient Egyptian and Greek artists, blending handmade pigments with hot beeswax.
Little has been an enduring and influential force in the field of abstraction for decades. Included in such pivotal early exhibitions as Another Generation: Contemporary Abstractionists at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1979, and Afro-American Abstraction at MoMA PS1 in 1980, Little has consistently re-defined the meaning and importance of abstract painting in the Postmodern age. His distinctive aesthetic language is rooted in geometric shapes and patterns, flat surfaces, and emotive color relationships. While developing his unique position within contemporary abstraction, Little has devoted decades to rigorous academic study of color theory, pictorial design, and painting techniques. His practice embodies the complementary forces of simplicity and complexity.
Little holds a BFA from the Memphis Academy of Art and an MFA from Syracuse University. He is a 2009 recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award for Painting. In addition to being featured prominently in the 2022 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, NY, his work has been exhibited extensively in solo and group exhibitions around the world, including at MoMA PS1, New York, NY; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, MO; and the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC. Recently, Little's work has been thrilling audiences in such groundbreaking exhibitions asDirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse, at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, and The Shape of Abstraction: Selections from the Ollie Collection at the Saint Louis Museum, Saint Louis, MO. In November of 2022, he will open an ambitious solo exhibition of new large-scale paintings at Kavi Gupta in Chicago.
His paintings are represented in the collections of numerous public and private collections, including the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, VA; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; DeMenil Collection in Houston, Texas; Library of Congress, Washington, DC; Maatschappij Arti Et Amicitiae, Amsterdam, Holland; Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, MO; Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse NY; New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, NJ; Tennessee State Museum, Nashville, TN; Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, AR; and Newark Museum, Newark, NJ.
Whitney Biennial 2022: Quiet as It’s Kept (April 6–September 5, 2022) is co-organized by David Breslin, DeMartini Family Curator and Director of Curatorial Initiatives, and Adrienne Edwards, Engell Speyer Family Curator and Director of Curatorial Affairs, with Gabriel Almeida Baroja, Curatorial Project Assistant, and Margaret Kross, former Senior Curatorial Assistant.
Whitney Biennial 2022 Member Preview Days
Thursday, March 31
10:30 am–6 pm
Friday, April 1
10:30 am–10 pm
Saturday, April 2
10:30 am–6 pm
Sunday, April 3
10:30 am–6 pm
Monday, April 4
10:30 am–6 pm
James Little's paintings in the 2022 Whitney Biennial. Photo by Ramsey Hoey. Image courtesy of James Little and Kavi Gupta.
James Little's paintings in the 2022 Whitney Biennial. Image courtesy of James Little and Kavi Gupta.
James Little with members of the Kavi Gupta team in front of Little's painting Private Storms (2021) at the VIP opening of the 2022 Whitney Biennial. (Photo coutresy of James Little and Kavi Gupta.)
James Little, Unapologetic Abstractionist Painter, Catches the LimelightHilarie M. Sheets, New York Times, October 26, 2022
James Little: What to Do in New York City in AugustThe New York Times, August 4, 2022
James Little: What to Do in New York City in JulyNew York Times, July 13, 2022
Painter James Little’s Commitment To AbstractionIsis Davis-Marks, The Art Newspaper, June 21, 2022
James Little Finally Gets His Turn in the Spotlight at this Year’s Whitney BiennialArtNews, May 2, 2022
James Little: The 2022 Whitney Biennial Expands the Scope of 'American' ArtVivian Chiu, Ocula, April 27, 2022
James Little: The Single Best Work in the Whitney BiennialDana Gordon, New York Sun, April 18, 2022
James Little: Whitney Biennial 2022: Artist Installations That Stole the ShowSimon Fisher, Eva Fuchs, Rory Mitchell , Ocula, April 8, 2022
James Little: A Glimpse into This Year's Whitney BiennialMarley Marius, Vogue, April 2, 2022
James Little: At the 2022 Whitney Biennial, Compelling WorksAyanna Dozier, Artsy, March 31, 2022
James Little: A Whitney Biennial of Shadow and LightHolland Cotter, New York Times, March 31, 2022
James Little: A Sharp, Understated Whitney Biennial Looks to the Past to Process the Grief of the PresentAlex Greenberger , ARTNews, March 30, 2022