Magazine article Artforum International

Anne Truitt: Matthew Marks Gallery

Magazine article Artforum International

Anne Truitt: Matthew Marks Gallery

Article excerpt

The overriding aesthetic of the early 1960s was marked by Clement Greenberg's procrustean sense of historical inevitability. Anne Truitt first met the demanding critic in 1959; over the years, she encountered Helen Frankenthaler, Kenneth Noland, and the gallerist Andre Emmerich, who began to show her work in 1963. A New England blue blood who died at the age of eighty-three in 2004, Truitt is best known for her fusion of strong, boxy forms with a cultivated sense of color--Donald Judd meets Brice Marden, as it were. Yet the various associations made with Truitt's work were anathema to the purely retinal or tactile absolutism of abstraction; she was "condescendingly gendered," as James Meyer, the ranking historian of Minimalism, noted in these pages in 2002.

Perhaps to quell such uncertainties, the artist's painted sculptures are forsworn in this exhibition, which instead features twenty-seven lovely though problematic drawings. The survey is accompanied by a catalogue by Brenda Richardson, a former deputy director and chief curator of the Baltimore Museum of Art, who attempts to right the near wrong of the present-day assessment of Truitt's anomalous achievement (a task also undertaken, on a much larger scale, by Kristen Hileman in her 2009 retrospective of Truitt's work at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC). Truitt's drawings--mostly acrylic on paper or acrylic and graphite on paper--are notable not so much for being like one another, but for being like so many others as well. This problem of vexing similarity is amplified by Truitt's Color Field and Minimalist mix, however much she would have cared to have her work float free of period stylistics. In short, Truitt's drawings are too "nomalous."

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From the very outset, the black rectangle of 28 Dec '62 summons forth associations with Ellsworth Kelly and, proleptically, Marden. (Richardson notes that the women painters of Truitt's generation--Frankenthaler, Joan Mitchell, Grace Hartigan--provide scant parallel, while members of the post-Minimalist generation do.) And when we encounter the drawing Untitled, 1986, its yellow and yellow-gold sliced shapes are all but Barnett Newman-like. …

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