November 11, 2011

What I Looked At Today: Anne Truitt

Insurrection, 1962, image:

I needed to see some hard-to-find Chris Burden catalogues--more on that later, but soon--and the quickest place I could find them was the Corcoran School's library. I called ahead, and they had them waiting for me, so I was in and out of the library in no time.

Which left me with a little time to wander. And there is a very nice gallery with a nice, old Ellsworth Kelly diptych, and this wonderful Anne Truitt sculpture in the center of the room.

Insurrection was installed very dramatically with Hardcastle, another 1962 work, in Kristen Hileman's Truitt retrospective at the Hirshhorn. Hardcastle confronted you head-on through the doorway, while Insurrection was turned sideways; on edge, with only the slab's thinness and wooden brackets visible. It was only as you moved around it--following the contours of those unfortunate Karim Rashidian raised platforms--that they switched out: Hardcastle's heft gave way, and Insurrection widened, revealing that they shared the same structure.

Hardcastle, 1962, via

The install of Insurrection at the Corcoran, meanwhile, is much less enigmatic. There are off-center approaches from three different sides, so the sculpture is what it is when you see it. Moving around it is an experience, not a discovery. [The full frontal orientation faces the Kelly, Yellow with Red Triangle, from 1973.]

Yellow with Red Triangle, 1973, image

Even though they're the same shape/structure, I remember Hardcastle's monochrome face felt more massive--and then artificial, as its red brackets popped into view. Insurrection's two-tone reds make it feel more like two volumes immediately, which turn out to be one.

Back down on the floor where they belong, Truitt's larger sculptures always feel like a presence, in space, and yet they're paint[ings?] [ed?] And yet there is paint. Maybe 1962 was before her reportedly vigorous sanding and multiple coats kicked in, because Truitt's surface is most definitely painted with a brush. Kelly's surface, meanwhile, is only disturbed by the weave of his canvas; I'm going to assume he used a roller. But wow, there's a brush going around the edges. And how. Just slapped right on there.

I'm trying to better understand the sense of paintings as objects, of the picture plane as nothing of the sort. I didn't plan today to see these two artists' works--Truitt's and Kelly's--which explore this very idea, in the form of painting/sculpture, but here they were. I still have to look some more, but basically, I came away thinking I might be really knocking myself out too much over my smoothly brushed-on painting surfaces.

previously: many Anne Truitt posts on
and a little on looking at Ellsworth Kelly

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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