Abstract artist Jack Whitten will receive an honorary doctorate degree from Brandeis University on May 22.
Whitten, whose exhibition “Light Years” was featured at the Rose Art Museum in 2013, will be in conversation with Rose Director Christopher Bedford and Curator at Large Katy Siegel on Saturday May 21 at 2 p.m. in the Pollack Fine Arts Teaching Center. Next year, a book of Whitten’s writings, coedited by Siegel, will be published by the Rose.
Whitten’s decades-long career illustrates a brilliant convergence of creativity, experimentation and political activism. His work is represented in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tate Modern, the Rose Art Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among many others.
Whitten (b.1939) began his earliest experiments in painting during the 1960s, inspired by Abstract Expressionism. In 1974, Whitten had a landmark solo exhibition at the Whitney. Forty years later, a major retrospective, “Jack Whitten: Five Decades of Painting,” was organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, and later traveled to the Wexner Center for the Arts and the Walker Art Center. A longtime believer in abstract painting’s ability to address political issues, Whitten created a monumental artwork, 9.11.01, into which he incorporated crushed bone, glass and ash, as a memorial to the lives lost on September 11. Whitten’s work from the 1970s was presented at the Rose in 2013s “Light Years: Jack Whitten 1971-73,” curated by Curator at Large Katy Siegel, the Thaw Chair in Modern Art at Stony Brook University.
Mark Bradford, the Los Angeles–based abstract painter recently announced as the United States representative at the Venice Biennale in 2017 that will be presented by the Rose, said, “Jack’s hard-wrought place in the history of abstractions shows his stamina and talent.”
Commencement exercises will take place Sunday, May 22, at 10:30 a.m. in Gosman Sports and Convocation Center.