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Jack Whitten (b. 1939)
Jack Whitten (b. 1939)

The Norman Lewis Triptych 3rd Set

Jack Whitten (b. 1939)
The Norman Lewis Triptych 3rd Set
each signed, titled, numbered and dated respectively 'The Norman Lewis Triptych 3rd Set 1983 Jack Whitten' (on the reverse)
triptych?acrylic and oil on canvas
each: 26 1/8 x 26 1/8 in. (66.3 x 66.3 cm.)
overall: 26 1/8 x 79 1/4 in. (66.3 x 201.2 cm.)
Executed in 1983.
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

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Lot Essay

Throughout Whitten’s practice, he has created “Memorial paintings” dedicated to important figures in his
life and art. The abstract expressionist painter Norman Lewis (b. 1909 – d.1979) was a foundational
mentor for Whitten as a young artist in the early 1960s. Lewis’ insistence on black artists’ freedom to
investigate pure abstraction without the intervention of social narrative has continued to nourish Whitten’s
commitment to abstract painting. Whitten created this work at a unique moment in his practice in which he
mixed acrylic and oil paints together in one painting. He first built up quarter-inch slabs of acrylic on top of
which he applied the oil paint, a processes he has described as a “paint collage.” The use of both acrylic
and oil paints allowed Whitten to capture the touch and gesture that oil paint allows with the simultaneous
stationary and physical character of the acrylic. Whitten’s final step in the process was to cut a perfect
circle into the layers of paint with a compass.

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