American, born 1946
Indian Country, 2015
Oil on linen
72 x 72 inches
Indian Country (2015), by New York–based artist Stanley Whitney, was acquired by the department of modern and contemporary art. The six-foot-square painting is composed as an irregular, multicolored grid. The adjacent squares produce a vibration of optical color and generate a rhythm across the surface of the canvas—vertically, horizontally, and diagonally.
Whitney has said that color is the subject of his work and that each color has its own autonomy while corresponding to its neighbor. Whitney’s grid paintings of recent years are variations on a theme that evokes Ornette Coleman’s jazz improvisations and Morgan Russell’s “synchromies” of the early twentieth century. As in the work of the Synchromists, color in Whitney’s paintings suggests the synesthetic blending of the senses— “hearing” color, “seeing” sound. His work is also resonant with the abstract painting of his fellow Yale University alumni Peter Halley and Chris Martin.
Indian Country complements important works in the Museum’s collection by Martin and Halley as well as paintings by Katherine Bernhardt, Sam Gilliam, Mary Heilmann, Ellsworth Kelly, Sean Scully, and Joan Snyder.