Lisson Gallery

Stanley Whitney: The New Social Environment with The Brooklyn Rail

23 April 2020

Stanley Whitney, known widely for his vibrant, abstract grids, joined Tom McGlynn and The Brooklyn Rail in Zoom this week for the 25th edition of The New Social Environment. In response to the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis, The Brooklyn Rail is presenting a series of vibrant lunchtime conversations and social intimacy in a time of great physical distancing.

Ahead of the conversation two thoughts were shared from Whitney's 2008 interview with the Rail about his commitment to paint: “Color for me is all about touch. Whether it’s thicker or thinner—how you touch the canvas is different. If I put it on at a different weight, it’s a different color. The question for me is whether to repeat a color. I want to paint every color in the world. If I repeat a color—I work hard at repeating,”⁠ ⁠

“In the ’60s there were the Panthers, Civil Rights, and Dr. King, and I wanted to paint. How could I justify that? I avoided the Panthers in Kansas City because I wanted to paint, and I thought, God, I can’t tell them that I’m a painter; it’s a bourgeois activity. When people were telling you that you were African-American, and you should be a voice of the race, and this is what you need to do, and you’re a painter...and you’re born as a painter, so what is that? So you had to hide out and protect yourself and go paint. And through painting, you discover why it’s important. I think that I was always that individual.”

To learn more, and to tune in for future episodes, follow updates via The Brooklyn Rail here.

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Image: Stanley Whitney, The Secret of Black Song & Laughter, 2018
Oil on linen, 243.8 x 243.8 x 17.8 cm, 96 x 96 x 7 in
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