Anne Truitt

1921Baltimore, United States | 2004Washington D. C., United States
Anne Truitt — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

© Anne Truitt / Bridgeman Images

American sculptor and painter.

Anne Dean studied psychology before working as a nurse in a hospital in Boston, all while writing poems and novels. After marrying the journalist James Truitt in 1948, she participated in an evening sculpture course, which convinced her to return to school at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Washington D.C. There, A. Truitt met Kenneth Noland who had a great influence on her artistic development. She followed her husband to different cities, such as the San Francisco Bay area (1957–1960), where light and space particularly impressed her. She realised many sculptures in ceramic inspired by Mexican and Mayan art, as well as a number of graphic works. Between 1960 and 1964, she returned to Washington D.C., where she had a large studio. During this pivotal period, she reconnected with K. Noland and associated with critics and historian such as Clement Greenberg and William Rubin, as well as artists Morris Louis and David Smith. During an exhibition on Abstract Expressionism, a Barnett Newman painting Onement VI (1953) and a black monochrome by Ad Reinhardt confirmed her choice to work in sculpture: pure geometry and monochrome. She realised a work in the form of a barrier, First (1961), followed in 1962 by a major ensemble of sculptures and drawings. Her first solo exhibition took place the following year, at the New York Gallery André Emmerich. During a stay in Japan between 1964 and 1969, she produced sculptures in painted metal, that she would later destroy. That same year, she separated from her husband and returned to Washington D.C., where the Artist Fellowship Program of the Washington Gallery of Modern Art allowed her to find a studio and have a means to dedicate herself to her art.

Starting from the 1960s, A. Truitt was identified as one of the rare female artists, alongside Jo Baer and Agnes Martin, to adhere to the Minimalist art movement. Her works were exhibited in several major exhibitions during these years: Primary Strucctures (1966) at the Jewish Museum in New York, and The Art of the Real: USA, 1948–68 (1968) at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. At the beginning of the following decade, her work was the subject of several retrospectives in institutions such as the Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. (2009), accompanied by a landmark monography. A. Truitt was the creator of a body of work that was both complex and original and that sought to apply the visual discoveries of minimalist art to three-dimensions since its beginning, all the while surpassing the chromatic array of more well-known sculptors of the movement such as Carl Andre, Bob Morris and Donald Judd. She initially relied on architectural elements and a palette inspired by her native east coast of Maryland. Barriers and tombs progressively simplified into columns – her trademark – realised in both pastels and vivid tones, in which the juxtaposition subtly evokes the nature and landscapes of the West Coast of the United States. In parallel to her practice, she kept an “artist’s journal” which would later be published under the titles Daybook (1982), Turn (1986) and Prospect (1996). Her willingness to differentiate herself from the doctoral vision of Minimalism is summarised in this sentence: “I have never allowed myself, in my own hearing, to be called a Minimalist. Because Minimalist art is characterised by nonreferentiality. And that’s not what I am characterised by. [My work] is totally referential. I’ve struggled all my life to get maximum meaning in the simplest possible form (1987).”

Camille Morineau

Translated from French by Katia Porro.

From the Dictionnaire universel des créatrices
© 2013 Des femmes – Antoinette Fouque
© Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions
Anne Truitt — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Anne Truitt, Parva XXI (Moon Lily), 1984, acrylic on wood, 54.6 x 38.1 cm, © Anne Truitt / Bridgeman Images

Anne Truitt — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Anne Truitt, First, 1961, latex semi-gloss enamel on popular wood, 111.8 x 43.2 x 17.8 cm, © Anne Truitt / Bridgeman Images

Anne Truitt — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Anne Truitt, Morning Choice, 1968, acrylic on marine mahogany plywood, 182.9 x 35.6 x 35.6 cm, © Anne Truitt / Bridgeman Images

Anne Truitt — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Anne Truitt, Parva XII, 1977, acrylic on wood, 14.6 x 81.3 x 10.2 cm, © Anne Truitt / Bridgeman Images

Anne Truitt — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Anne Truitt, View, 1999, acrylic on wood, 205.7 x 20.3 x 20.3 cm, © Anne Truitt / Bridgeman Images

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