Jack Whitten: The Greek Alphabet Paintings

Jack Whitten: The Greek Alphabet Paintings is a book designed by Polymode that documents the first-ever exhibition devoted to Whitten’s Greek Alphabet painting series of 1975–78 at Dia Beacon. Curated by Donna De Salvo and Matilde Guidelli-Guidi with Zuna Maza, curatorial assistant, the illustrated publication features  scholarly essays alongside previously unpublished archival documents and writings by the artist.

Echoing Whitten’s enigmatic, significant, and overlooked body of work, our book design rifts off the black-and-white paintings that experiment with composition, mark-making, and artist-made tools and techniques, including combs, imprinting, and rubbings. The book’s cover uses a black linen paper inset with a white square and minimal typographic treatment This monochrome design points to Whitten’s inscribed surfaces without being a direct reproduction—a graphic and material abstraction representing the book’s rich archival photographs, journals, and notes in the artist’s hand. The book’s shape and typographic grid mimic the rectilinear proportions of many of the Greek Alphabet works. A type system of  Self Modern designed by Lucas Le Bihan and GT Zikron designed by Tobias Rechsteiner juxtapose the organic that evokes handwriting and the geometric that honors Whitten’s intensely layered canvases.

Polymode took particular care and collaborated closely with the curatorial team and printer, Verona Libri, to ensure newly commissioned photography accurately reproduced works that defy photographic documentation. The result is a design as complex, mercurial, and expansive as Jack Whitten’s Greek Alphabet Paintings