Portrait of Richard Whitten

Portrait of Richard Whitten with Orrery Orrery Orrery Detail Dellschau Bumblebee Dellschau Bumblebee Detail Dellschau Bumblebee Studio Installation View of Studio View of Studio
View of Studio View of Studio View of Studio View of Studio View of Studio View of Studio View of Studio


Richard Whitten grew up in Manhattan, NY. Richard Whitten earned a B.A. in Economics from Yale University and an M.F.A. in Painting from the University of California at Davis where he studied with both Wayne Thiebaud and Robert Arneson. He has had numerous exhibitions on both coasts. Notable are major solo exhibitions at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle, Washington, the Newport Art Museum in Newport, Rhode Island, and the University of Maine Museum of Art. He is represented by ArtMora Gallery, NY and Seoul, Korea; Clark Gallery, Lincoln, MA; the William Scott Gallery, Provincetown, MA; and the Dedee Shattuck Gallery in Westport, MA. He is presently a Professor of Painting and former Chair of the Art Department at Rhode Island College.

Artist’s Statement

My paintings deal with intellectual play. Intellectual play, in my opinion, is not only the basis of learning but is also synonymous to fascination and delight.

My paintings are meant to be games or toys in themselves. The challenge for the viewers is, without knowing “the rules”, to propel the image into motion with sight and thought alone.

Two types of “games” have developed in my paintings. In the first, an invented mechanical toy or device (often involving repetitive motion or flight) is set within imagined classical architecture. In the second more recent series, the painting’s surface acts as game board, and the viewers are challenged to move a hovering ball (through imagination) into place.

The viewers’ experience of my painting begins with the realization that my painting is non-rectangular. Unlike the rectangle, which is understood to be a non-material picture window into another space, the shaped panel exists as an object in the world of the viewers, an object possessing a physical reality. Next the viewers are drawn into the illusion of the painted image where they are invited to explore, to interact with the painting by visually “touching” and mentally “setting the painting into motion.”

Technical Information:

These paintings are on birch plywood panels that are cut to shape. The image is entirely flat. The “frame” is an illusion. They are braced on the back with a grid of maple strips that both stop the wood from warping and make the panel “hover” off the wall when mounted.

detail of mouse in painting

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