Wednesday, June 17, 2020

What I'm Reading: Jack Whitten Notes from the Woodshed

For the past week or so, I've been staying up late reading Jack Whitten's Notes from the Woodshed.


Whitten should be required reading/viewing for every creative individual.

“I want to put the fear of God in these paintings. I want to evoke a spiritual—magical—cosmic existence with a material connection—emotionally charged….”

I first learned about him in early February. David and I went to a book signing/presentation at Hauser & Wirth in Los Angeles. I had been wanting to go to their bookstore for quite some time but the timing was never right. I'm so happy that we finally had a chance to go. While there, I flipped through Whitten's Notes from the Woodshed. I didn't buy it (it was one of those bills and food before anything else kind of weeks) but I couldn't stop thinking about him.

King's Wish (Martin Luther King's Dream) 1968

I started googling his name when I got home.

When California began "safer at home", I dived in. I listened to as many podcasts, youtube videos and soaked in his words. Jack Whitten KNEW his stuff and I was hooked!

April's Shark 1974

"The developer" was ONE of the tools he created and used to create paintings like April's Shark, long before Gerhard Richter painted his famous works.

Whitten didn't stop.

He was always creating, pushing his tools, and learning from them, except for the times when he ran out of paint (which he talks about in Notes from the Woodshed.)

Black Monolith X, Birth of Muhammad Ali, Detail, 2016

“I am back to zero. The only thing I have to salvage from the past fifteen years is the fact of the hard backing; the bringing of the floor up to the wall. This is meaningful. I want to start 1986 with a clean slate. Of course, this destroys any chance of getting a gallery, no one is interested in an artist at the end of a series and beginning a completely unknown beginning. I am black, 46 years old, angry, tired of teaching, tired of being poor. ...What am I to do?”

I have much to learn and more to read (and re-read.)

Discover Jack Whitten:

Jack Whitten interviews on Instagram here and here.

LISTEN here:


Solange said...

Thanks for sharing! Made me decide to purchase a copy after debating for a couple months

Kelly Kilmer said...

@Solange, lmk what you think, please!