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Robert Whitman


About Robert Whitman

Robert Whitman (b. 1935, New York) was a leading figure in New York’s Happenings movement from the late 1950s through the early 1960s. A pioneer of performance art and multimedia installation, he co-founded Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), a nonprofit organization dedicated to collaboration between artists and engineers. Throughout his career, Whitman has aspired to transform and transcend the limitations of images by emphasizing their spatial, temporal, and dimensional qualities.

Although Whitman received his first one artist exhibition at the Rutgers affiliated gallery, Art House, in 1958, he debuted his Constructions at Hansa Gallery, New York, in 1959. He has composed and produced over forty performance works, nine of which, spanning from 1976 to 1983, were created in conjunction with Dia Art Foundation. Whitman’s work is held in numerous collections in the United States and abroad, including Centre Pompidou, Paris; Dia Art Foundation, New York; The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C; and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.

Press Release

  • Robert Whitman: Shading
    PaceWildenstein will exhibit for the first time since 1967 a laser projection work by Robert Whitman entitled Wavy Red Line and two new mixed media installation pieces entitled Drawing a Line in the Sand and Shirt. The exhibition will be on view at 534 West 25th Street, New York, from January 16 through February 21, 2004. The public is invited to attend a preview of Robert Whitman: Shading on Friday, January 16 from 6-8 p.m. Wavy Red Line was originally shown in “Dark”, a Whitman solo show consisting of three laser works at The Pace Gallery’s former location at 9 West 57th Street thirty-seven years ago in 1967. Twenty-two days after it opened, the Board of Health closed the exhibit down due to concern about ocular damage to gallery visitors. In his new mixed media pieces, Whitman uses mirrors, fabric, and projectors where surface, light, reflection, and illusion create tableaux. Whitman’s projection pieces have been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including his one-person exhibition “Project Series” at The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1973). Robert Whitman (b. 1935) studied literature, drama, and later, visual arts at Rutgers University. In the late 1950s and 1960s he created some of the most important “Happenings”. As a performance artist Whitman earned initial recognition for Prune Flat (1965), which premiered at Cinematheque, New York and since then has been restaged over a dozen times. Prune Flat is a theatrical piece that explores perceptual discrepancies between film and reality and has recently been acquired by the Dia Art Foundation, New York and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Throughout his career Robert Whitman has created and staged numerous performances, both indoor and outdoor works, in conjunction with the Dia Art Foundation. Some of these include Eclipse (1983-1984); Raincover (1982); A Walk in the Park (1981); and Theater Works 1960-1976, a retrospective exhibition of seven works featuring Prune Flat (1965) and Light Touch (1976). Whitman’s other theater works have been staged at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2001); the List Visual Arts Center, MIT, Cambridge featured Black Dirt (1990), which traveled to the Painted Bride Arts Center, Philadelphia, The Kitchen, New York, and the Walker Art Center at the Southern Theater, Minneapolis; the Moderna Museet, Stockholm (1989, 1987, 1973); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1982); Contemporary Art Museum, Houston (1977); and the Fondation Maeght, St. Paul (1970). Other solo museum exhibitions of Whitman’s work include: the artist’s recent retrospective “Playback”, Dia: Chelsea, New York (2003-2004); “Palisade”, Hudson River Museum, New York (1979); and “Robert Whitman: 4 Cinema Pieces”, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1968), amongst others. An exhibition of work by the photographer Richard Misrach will be on view simultaneously at PaceWildenstein Chelsea.