The Easel

Listening to Paintings in the Silence of the Studio

What thinking lies behind an abstract painting? Jack Whitten, who died late last year, recorded his thoughts in a diary. It reveals a roller coaster of ambition about his own art. He wanted a “synthesis of abstraction and subject matter”, but also to “get rid of the spiritual”. Sometimes he wanted “revenge”. Later, “please do not show me anything that doesn’t go beyond the self!”