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Win-Win Youth Wing

Odyssey: Jack Whitten sculpture 1963-2017


A stunning, significant, and previously unseen body of work by a contemporary master. At the same time that Jack Whitten pursued his decades-long and highly acclaimed rethinking of abstract painting, he was conducting a parallel experiment in sculpture. Whitten began carving wood in the mid-1960s, as a way to understand the formal qualities of African sculpture, both as fuel for his paintings and to interiorize its ancestral, political, and metaphysical lessons. His sculptural work expanded in 1969, whne he began spending the summers in Crete, where he connected wtih archaic Minoan and Cycladic objects as well as with a gorgeous natural world of sea, bone, wood, and stone. Odyssey accompanies a groundbreaking exhibition that features sculptures made by Whitten over the past fifty years. They are accompanied by Whitten’s Black Monolith series, paintings that directly reveal the lessons of his sculptural practice, and by a selection of the African and Greek work that inspired the artist. The book includes major essays by Kwame Anthony Appiah, Kelly Baum, Kellie Jones, Richard Shiff, Katy Siegel, and Whitten himself, in addition to an extensive interview with Whitten conducted by Courtney J. Martin. Odyssey not only deepens our understanding of one of the most important artists of our time, it also redefines the terms of global postwar art, affirming the centrality of a cosmopolitan black identity and grounding it in a more capacious vision of history.
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