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Stanley Whitney Enjoys the Limelight After Years of Struggle

2 min read  ·  25 Apr 2023

Exhibition view of “Stanley Whitney: The Italian Paintings”. Palazzo Tiepolo Passi, Venice, Italy. April 23–November 27, 2022. Copyright Stanley Whitney. Courtesy Lisson Gallery

Stanley Whitney, the veteran US abstract artist with a major museum survey in the pipeline, is trending on HENI News.

Stanley Whitney’s popularity has soared recently, with his HENI Score—a unique artist index—increasing by almost 70%. His auction sales have totalled $33.15m over the past two years, reflecting a resurgence in interest in the work of the artist’s jazz-inspired abstract paintings.

To find out more about Stanley Whitney (born 1946) and gain a greater insight into his market, see his HENI Dashboard.

Recently, Whitney's The Last Cowboy Song (2019) sold for $647,100 at Phillips, Hong Kong, its estimated price. In 2022, another typically vibrant abstract DA Red Dressed in Green (2020) sold for $1.07m, more than one and a half times its upper estimate at Christie’s, New York.

In spring 2023, Gagosian organised a solo show in London of Whitney’s new paintings, its first exhibition of the artist’s work since he joined the mega gallery. The US artist had worked with Lisson Gallery previously.

Born in Philadelphia, Whitney received a BFA degree in painting from Kansas City Art Institute in 1968, and an MFA degree from Yale University School of Art in 1972 but he faced many challenging years. He struggled to make a living in his early years in New York and at one point slept in a rat-infested studio, he told The Guardian. However, he continued to paint, often listening to Miles Davis, and finally began to gain recognition in the 1990s.

The artist had to wait until 2015 for his first solo museum exhibition in New York. It was organised by the Studio Museum in Harlem.

A major retrospective is due to open in February 2024 at the new-look Buffalo AKG Art Museum (formerly the Albright-Knox Art Gallery). As a curtain raiser to his show in upstate New York, the museum organised “Stanley Whitney: The Italian Paintings” at the Palazzo Tiepolo Passi, an official exhibition during the 2022 Venice Biennale.

Speaking to The Guardian about gaining recognition late in his career, the 77-year-old said, with a laugh: “It’s awful,” adding: “I am excited, but I’m trying to move forward rather than look through old work and wonder why I didn’t keep doing it. I mean, I probably would have if anyone had been interested.”