March 22, 2017, 9:39am
Arthur Peña: We first met in 2011 while I was at RISD and what stuck with me from that meeting was a story of how your father wasn’t allowed in museums because they were still segregated. How I remember the rest of the story is you saying that when you did have your first museum show you wanted to make paintings big enough that they wouldn’t fit through the door and the museum would have to work to get them in. Did I remember that right?
Stanley Whitney: Well it’s true that my father couldn’t go in to the Philadelphia Museum. Jack Whitten calls those years the “American Apartheid.” I have lots of stories of paintings not fitting through doors but I don’t think it’s exactly those circumstances. Although, I might have mentioned something like that. It could have been related to a story from around 2006 when my dealer José Freire came to me and asked me to make the biggest work I could make to take to Basel to try and make things happen because he kept putting me in shows and no one was paying me any mind. So I made the biggest painting I could make in my studio, 96 x 96 in., and to get it out we had to cut it in half to get it through the door. We showed it on a big expensive wall and it didn’t sell.