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ARTIST’S PORTFOLIO: JACK WHITTEN

Jack Whitten, Pink Psyche Queen, 1973, acrylic on canvas, 71 x 60".

WHEN DOES AN IMAGE END? At the edge of the screen, we might say, or of the stretcher or the page. But none of these answers has ever seemed to satisfy Jack Whitten. His work eludes the perimeters we know. It conjures something else: infinite extension, scanning, even searching.

The modernist grid, of course, implied such extension: its vertical and horizontal lines always iterable, potentially continuing beyond the limits of a given picture, as if that picture had merely zoomed in on a larger array. Beginning in the 1960s, though, Whitten came to understand that other kinds of movement were possible too—ones the grid could not map—and he began to introduce techniques of imaging that were often the first of their kind.

In Birmingham 1964, the artist punctured a painted foil support from behind and so declared the picture resolutely three-dimensional. Yet unlike the slashes

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