Matthew Marks presents Anne Truitt Paintings. Featuring fifteen works on canvas made between 1972 and 1994, this is the largest exhibition of Truitt’s paintings since the 1970s.
Known primarily for her totemic wood sculptures painted in subtle shades of color, Truitt also made innovative paintings for more than three decades. Rarely seen during her lifetime (only two of the works in this exhibition have been shown before), Truitt’s paintings juxtapose fields of rich color applied in multiple layers using a masking technique Truitt first developed in the 1960s. One of the largest paintings in the exhibition, the nine-foot-wide Engadine I (1990), features two shades of purplish black divided along a sharp vertical border that bisects the composition into unequal yet optically balanced halves.
Despite her pared-down formal vocabulary, which has garnered comparisons to Minimalism, Truitt’s fundamental concern was expression: “I’ve struggled all my life to get maximum meaning in the simplest possible form.” This can be seen in her attentiveness not only to each painting’s color and composition but also to its material support. In Messenger, Prodigal, and Morning Wave (all 1986) she has accentuated the verticality of each painting — eight feet tall but just eight and a half inches wide — by tacking the canvas to the back of the stretchers and extending the composition around the painting’s sides. In later works, including Prospect (1991), she used rounded stretcher bars that curl inward to give the painting a curved bevel along its perimeter. This tension between two and three dimensionality is a central element in Truitt’s paintings and sculptures. Through this interplay between pictorial effects and material support, she manifested the metaphysical meaning in her art — or, as she described it, “the sharp delight of watching what has been inside one’s own most intimate self materialize into visibility.”
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with an essay by Michael Schreyach.
Anne Truitt (1921–2004) lived and worked in Washington, DC. Her work has been the subject of one-person exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art (1973–74), the Corcoran Gallery of Art (1974), the Baltimore Museum of Art (1974 and 1992), and the National Gallery of Art (2017–18). In 2009 the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, organized a comprehensive survey of her sculpture. In 2013 the three volumes of her acclaimed journals, Daybook (1982), Turn (1986), and Prospect (1996), were published together for the first time in e-book and audiobook formats, alongside a new print edition of Daybook. Last year an installation of Truitt’s paintings and sculptures opened at Dia:Beacon, where it remains on long-term view.all images © the gallery and the artist(s)