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Artists Melvin Edwards and Ed Clark at the opening of “Jack Whitten,” September 2011, Alexander Gray Associates, New York
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Jack Whitten

FROM GARBAGE TO GEMS
by Elisabeth Kley



When veteran abstract painter Jack Whitten (b. 1933) first began experimenting with art as a child in Alabama in the 1940s, his canvases were the leftover pelts of the raccoons and muskrats he hunted with his friends and peddled for 30 cents each. “I’ve always thought of the picture plane as a skin,” Whitten told Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center director Stuart Horodner in a 2008 interview. (This was, of course, 60 years before David Hammons used rich people's fur coats as targets of his painterly expressions.

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