The Life and Art of Jack Whitten

Barry Schwabsky at The Nation:

Last year saw the publication of a book that could well turn out to be a future classic of art writing. Jack Whitten’s Notes From the Woodshed was released just a few months after the painter’s death in New York at the age of 78. More than 500 pages of journal entries, written between March 24, 1962, and December 27, 2017, Notes From the Woodshed gives as true a sense of how the life of an artist is lived, and how it’s lived for the sake of his work, as any I’ve read. The book’s hallmarks are a kinetic energy of thought and immediacy of expression that trump literary style or even good spelling. By the end of his life, Whitten knew that his notes would be published—he wrote a prefatory essay in September 2015, more than two years before his last journal entry—but he didn’t gussy them up. They have been abridged, though, partly because he could be as critical of his fellow artists as he could be generously enthusiastic about them, and “a few of his writings have been redacted here to protect the living,” notes the book’s editor, Katy Siegel, who also curated last year’s exhibition, “Odyssey: Jack Whitten Sculpture, 1963–2017,” at the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Met Breuer.

more here.