Anne Truitt - Precursor of Minimalism

Anne Truitt (March 16, 1921 – December 23, 2004), born Anne Dean, was a major American artist of the mid-20th century.. She made what is considered her most important work in the early 1960s anticipating in many respects the work of minimalists like Donald Judd. She was unlike the minimalists in some significant ways
After leaving the field of clinical psychology in the mid-1940s, Truitt began making figurative sculptures, but turned toward reduced geometric forms after visiting the Guggenheim Museum with her friend Mary Pinchot Meyer to see H.H. Arnason's exhibition "American Abstract Expressionists and Imagists" in November 1961. Truitt remembers that she "spent all that day looking at art…I saw Ad Reinhardt's black canvases, the blacks and the blues. Then I went on down the ramp and rounded the corner and..saw the paintings of Barnett Newman. I looked at them, and from that point on I was home free. I had never realized you could do it in art. Have enough space. Enough color." Truitt was especially inspired by the "universe of blue paint" and the subtle modulation and shades of color in Newman's Onement VI.The singularity of the Abstract Expressionists that she observed in work by Barnett Newman and Ad Reinhardt struck Truitt and sparked a turning point in her work.

 Truitt's first wood sculpture, titled First (1961), consists of three white vertical slates rooted in a block ground, each coming to a point and braced to each other at the rear, resembling a fragment of a picket fence. The forms contain memories of her past and her childhood geography, rather reflection of a "direct result of an empirical perception." First is a permeable memory of the idea of a fence, of all the fences Truitt has seen, instead of a fence modeled off of a specific image. During a period spent in Japan with her husband, who at the time was the Japan bureau chief for Newsweek, she created aluminum sculptures from 1964 to 1967 Before her first retrospective in New York she decided she did not like the works and destroyed them.

 The sculptures that made her significant to the development of Minimalism were aggressively plain and painted structures, often large. Fabricated from wood and painted with monochromatic layers of acrylic, they often resemble sleek, rectangular columns or pillars. Truitt produces in scale drawings of her structures that are then produced by a cabinetmaker. The structures are weighed to the ground and are often hollow, allowing the wood to breathe in changing temperatures. She applies gesso to prime the wood and then up to 40 coats of acrylic paint, alternating brushstrokes between horizontal and vertical directions and sanding between layers. The artist sought to remove any trace of her brush, sanding down each layer of paint between applications and creating perfectly finished planes of colour.The layers of paint build up a surface with tangible depth. Additionally, the palpable surface of paint convey Truitt's ever-present sense of geography in the alternating vertical and horizontal paint strokes that mirror the latitude and longitude of an environment. Her process combined "the immediacy of intuition, the remove of prefabrication, and the intimacy of laborious handwork."  The recessional platform under her sculpture raised them just enough off the ground that they appeared to float on a thin line of shadow. The boundary between sculpture and ground, between gravity and verticality, was made illusory. This formal ambivalence is mirrored by her insistence that color itself, for instance, contained a psychological vibration which when purified, as it is on a work of art, isolates the event it refers to as a thing rather than a feeling. The event becomes a work of art, a visual sensation delivered by color. The Arundel series of paintings, begun in 1973, features barely visible graphite lines and accumulations of white paint on white surfaces. In the custard-color Ice Blink (1989), a tiny sliver of red at the bottom of the painting is enough to set up perspectival depth, as is a single bar of purple at the bottom of the otherwise sky-blue Memory (1981). Begun around 2001, the Piths, canvases with deliberately frayed edges and covered in thick black strokes of paint, indicate Truitt’s interest in forms that blur the lines between two and three dimensions...Wikipedia

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