This exhibition presents the extraordinary and previously unknown sculptures of acclaimed American artist Jack Whitten (1939–2018). Whitten’s sculptures, which he first created in New York and later at his summer home on Crete, consist of carved wood, often in combination with found materials sourced from his local environment, including bone, marble, paper, glass, nails, and fishing line. Inspired by art-historical sources rooted in Africa, the ancient Mediterranean, and the Southern United States, Whitten’s sculptures not only address the themes of place, memory, family, and migration, they also give expression to a transnational, cosmopolitan perspective. — Metropolitan Museum
After touring the studio, seeing the sculptures, and hearing the beautiful story of Jack Whitten from the lovely curators, it was crucial to try and tell his story (and journey) through the exhibition graphics. His sculptures have this poetic content but sometimes a visually violent nature because of the objects he collects to incorporate into them.
He treated some of these sculptures almost as religious shrines (adding an object to them daily) which activates them as a deeply personal relic of the late artist and his family.
Using Apoc felt right for this particular exhibition due to the nature of the glyphs mimicking some of the objects he made and the backstory which related more to his upbringing and how he treats a lot of his sculptures as well. The particular lock up of the exhibition actually references covers of old biblical texts to really play up the fact that a lot of these objects, again, are deeply personal and somewhat religious to him.
Everything together worked in harmony as visitors navigate the space to experience Jack Whitten’s personal journey throughout his career and through his artwork. It is a very special exhibition to enjoy and visit that the Met has put together!