Ideas about Painting

Why is Wendy White still beneath the radar?

Wendy White, “Hip Replacement,” 2009, 91 1/2 x 196 in

In the Fall Arts Preview at The L Magazine, Paddy Johnson wonders why Wendy White hasn’t had the breakout success her work deserves. White’s multi-paneled spray paint canvases have been exhibited in so many places that it’s hard to call her an ‘up and coming’ artist, but she hasn’t seen the kind of attention other artists of her generation — Matthew Day Jackson, Dana Schutz, and Jules De Balincourt to name a few — have received.

“White’s work has mysteriously been passed over for survey shows such as the Whitney Biennial and PS1 Greater New York and she has yet to collect comparable levels of press coverage as the aforementioned artists.” Johnson reports. “But this seems likely to change. White’s reputation as a painter has solidly grown over the years, her name coming to the lips of many. But rather than gaining buzz through the usual channels — museum shows, art magazines spreads, and high profile commissions — White’s rising esteem is due to little more than the work itself. A master of unexpectedly pleasing canvas shapes and paint application, her work brings to mind the fluid paint handling of Christopher Wool, the complex compositional arrangements of Jean-Michel Basquiat, and the aggressive surface treatments of Sterling Ruby. More than many of White’s contemporaries, the artist enjoys the spatial illusion of paint, creating areas of color that read completely flat while other passages extrude and recede, impressions often complicated by the introduction of objects and her recent experiments with text. White’s upcoming solo exhibition in Madrid will showcase a number of these paintings in which paint literalizes word play.” Read the entire Fall Arts Preview.


  1. maybe the reason she has been passed over is the simple reason that the artwork is crap. It's easy to make and very easy to walk past.

  2. Although I am not sure I like the work, it has fascinated me for a couple years now. I really thought she was better regarded than this post suggests, and I think she should be. The easy-to-make argument doesn't hold water, of course, because a) show me, and b) it doesn't matter anyway. Lots of stuff, even if it is "easy" to make, is only so after it has been made, because it has been brought into existence. And I am NOT saying "it's about the idea." White's work is, for me at least, really at the center of certain things going on in contemporary abstraction that i am still trying to understand, for instance the problematic issue of the self and how much it is invested in the work, or even where/how/if the self is. This is a very old issue that has been done and done, but she makes it urgent still/again.

  3. ? Johnson writes that White is well regarded even though she has escaped the attention of a few of the organizations that provide traditional routes to success. In any event, anyone who has ever invested any time in paring down a process in order to explore what it is that makes a provocative piece of art, knows that it is a very challenging exercise- requiring great intuition and control of medium.

    White is a breathe of fresh air. Her uncluttered paintings do not pander to conventional price point justifications, etc., and that is very brave. Whether the work is your taste or not, it is eye catching, thought provoking, and genuine.

  4. yes absolutely they are uncluttered. but they are also cluttered. or rather they make clutter part of their content? certainly not easy to do.

  5. Yeah the easy to make argument is boring, and meaningless. all really good paintings make you feel like you could have done them.

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