Agnes Martin, Richard Tuttle: Crossing Lines

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Agnes Martin, Richard Tuttle: Crossing Lines

Agnes Martin, Richard Tuttle: Crossing Lines
to Sat 27 Jan 2018

Pace Gallery presents an exhibition of new wire pieces by Richard Tuttle created in response to and installed with grey paintings by Agnes Martin.

Pace 32 East Agnes Martin Richard Tuttle 1

Agnes Martin, Richard Tuttle: Crossing Lines marks the first time in nearly 20 years that works by the two artists and longtime friends have been shown together in a focused exhibition.

Tuttle and Martin first met in the early 1960s at Betty Parsons Gallery in New York and remained close friends until Martin’s death in 2004. Martin was a contemporary of the Abstract Expressionists and identified her work with the movement, but her painting also presaged the arrival of Minimalism. Comprised of vertical and horizontal lines and grids painted upon washes of subdued color, Martin’s paintings delicately navigate line, surface, tone, and repetition, inducing a sense of serenity, much like a mantra. Tuttle, too, has investigated similar concerns of line, volume, color, shadow, and perception throughout his career. Whereas Martin operated largely within the confines of painting and drawing, Tuttle’s practice eludes formal categorization and is grounded in handmade constructions of ordinary materials, such as wire, tape, thread, and cardboard that are raised to the pinnacle of beauty.

“It’s an honor to have the opportunity to bring together works by Agnes Martin and Richard Tuttle—two artists who shared such a special relationship with one another and are pivotal figures in the ongoing evolution of modern and contemporary art—and to reveal how much these artists acted from the same search of innocence and beauty,” said Arne Glimcher, Founder, Pace Gallery.

Once the seven paintings by Martin, from the 1960s through the early 2000s, are installed and lit, Tuttle will create new wire pieces that respond to the paintings and engage with the distinct light and shadow of their illuminations. First begun in the early 1970s, Tuttle’s wire pieces exist as dimensional drawings comprising three elements: a pencil line on a wall, wire, and shadow. In an intensely physical process that Tuttle describes as “an activity,” wire is attached to the wall near the endpoints of the pencil line and then allowed to spring or fall away from the surface, creating its shadow as the third element of the piece. The final qualities and experience of each piece—the saturation of the shadow, the visibility and thrust of the wire, the thickness of the pencil line—result from the specificities of each one’s distinct environment fused with the artist’s own physicality.

On the occasion of the exhibition, Tuttle shared:

Relations often invite

comparison, an idea

I learned from Agnes

Martin, who could

decline showing for

this reason. For me,

comparison, in this

case, is outweighed

by an augmentation,

where the access to

each artist’s work is

facilitated, indeed,

enhanced, by the

other’s, so many of

the issues, present

for each artist, shown

in a necessarycom-

pliment, otherwise

left open and blank.

Agnes Martin (b. 1912, Macklin, Saskatchewan, Canada; d. 2004, Taos, New Mexico), one of the most influential painters of her generation, left an indelible mark on the history of modern and contemporary art. Growing up in western Canada, she moved between New Mexico and New York throughout her early career. For a pivotal decade starting in 1957, Martin lived and worked in Coenties Slip, a neighborhood in lower Manhattan she shared with emerging artists including Ellsworth Kelly, before returning to New Mexico in 1967. Inspired by the transcendent qualities of paintings by Mark Rothko and Ad Reinhardt, Martin considered herself to be an Abstract Expressionist. Nonetheless, her oeuvre played a critical role in heralding the advent of Minimalism, influencing, among others, Eva Hesse’s sculptural practice and Sol LeWitt’s wall drawings. Characterized by austere lines and grids superimposed upon muted grounds of color, Martin’s paintings elegantly negotiate the confines of structure and space, draftsmanship, and the metaphysical.

Richard Tuttle’s (b. 1941, Rahway, New Jersey) direct and seemingly simple deployment of objects and gestures reflects a careful attention to materials and experience. Rejecting the rationality and precision of Minimalism, Tuttle embraced a handmade quality in his invention of forms that emphasize line, shape, color, and space as central concerns. He has resisted medium-specific designations for his work, employing the term drawing to encompass what could otherwise be termed sculpture, painting, collage, installation, and assemblage. Overturning traditional constraints of material, medium, and method, Tuttle’s works sensitize viewers to their perceptions. His working process, in which one series begets the next, is united by a consistent quest to create objects that are expressions of their own totality.

Photography by Kerry Ryan McFate, courtesy Pace Gallery © 2017 Estate of Agnes Martin /Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York © Richard Tuttle, courtesy Pace Gallery

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