About the Exhibition
The exhibition begins with a gallery dedicated to three monumental, horizontal-format diptychs from 1993–94. These works recall Whitney’s first sojourn in Rome, marking the beginning of a lifetime of inspiration from Italian culture. While Whitney had been exploring the formal possibilities of color within ever-shifting grids of multi-hued blocks and all-over gestural fields since the mid-1970s, this visit to Rome marked a paradigm shift in his work, and Italian art and architecture soon became palpable in his abstractions. Whitney and his partner moved to Italy in 1992 as an escape from the New York art world—a difficult scene for an abstract artist of color to find a place in—and he was immediately drawn to the colors and forms surrounding him: the construction of the Pantheon and the Colosseum, Vatican City, the stacked urns in the Etruscan Museum, Renaissance history, as well as the play of the light on the buildings and the colors of the windows. In the diptychs on view, the circular forms of Whitney’s earlier paintings began to expand and draw towards each other, crowding out what might have previously been more open space in his compositions. Whitney has kept a studio outside Parma since the 1990s and the pace of that region became a key, albeit underrecognized, part of his creative practice.