Stanley Whitney was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1946 and studied at the Kansas City Art Institute before moving to New York City in 1968. In 1972, Whitney graduated with an MFA from Yale School of Art and found himself at odds with the politically oriented contemporary art scene of the 1970s and 1980s. Whitney rejected the idea that, as an African American artist, his art should focus solely on themes of racial and cultural identity. Instead, he was more interested in honing an abstract visual language – surrounding patches of color with areas of empty space and exploring the power of gesture.
In the 1990s, Whitney lived and worked in Rome, Italy, where he was heavily influenced by Roman art and architecture. As a result, his compositions shifted from untethered forms to denser arrangements that showcased his nuanced understanding of the relationship between color and geometry. The juxtaposition of these structural dynamics and his light, rapid application characterize his mature style. Whitney has stated that he “start[s] at the top and work[s] down… One color calls forth another. Color dictates the structure, not the other way round.”
Whitney has had solo exhibitions at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, and Palazzo Tiepolo Passo, Venice, Italy. His work is also included in various public collections, including those of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; and Philadelphia Museum of Art. In 2015, a retrospective of his work titled Dance the Orange opened at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York.
Whitney is still active, splitting his time between Bridgehampton, New York, and Parma, Italy, and is currently Professor Emeritus of Painting and Drawing at Tyler School of Art and Architecture, Temple University, Philadelphia.
Stanley Whitney, Yellow Changing, 2011, Signed, Aquatint on Hahnemühle bright white paper, Edition 20, 15" x 16" Sheet Size, 7 5/8" x 9 3/8" Image Size