Magazine article Artforum International

Richard Tuttle

Magazine article Artforum International

Richard Tuttle

Article excerpt

SPERONE WESTWATER

In this culture of big spectacle and loud noise, it's inevitable that understatement and beautifully modest production will come to be valued, if only by certain cults. Richard Tuttle certainly qualifies as a high priest in this regard. He makes art that's small but not cute, simple but not smug, minimal but not Minimalist, casual but not sloppy, formal but not rigid. A lot of pitfalls to skirt for one career, much less one series of work.

In "Two With Any To," Tuttle shows twenty square plywood panels with pieces of two-by-two attached, on which he has painted simple abstractions in acrylic. These are paintings, but they are intended to have a sculptural presence as well. Originally the works had been fixed to the wall with nails through the four corners; unhappy with the effect, Tuttle pried Out the bottom nails of each piece, freeing the panels to pop off the wall and throw a shadow. These shadows matter.

In Two With Any To, #3 (all works 1999), a horizontal rectangle of brown paint is balanced by a vertical block of two-by-two painted dark brown. At first you think you get the joke--that he used the block to trace the rectangle, and that they are the same size. A quick measurement against your finger rules that out: The block is considerably shorter. Disappointed, stepping back, you see that if you figure in the square shadow cast by the block, the two rectangles are almost exactly of equal length. So there is a joke-just not the obvious one. Tuttle rewards close looking, but he also warns against overly materialistic readings that privilege literal presence over experience. …

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