About the Artist

Richard Tuttle

Richard Tuttle had his first solo exhibition in 1965 at the Betty Parsons Gallery in New York, and came to art-world prominence in 1967 with a work called "Tan Octagon" in a group show at the Whitney Museum. This work, made of shaped dyed canvas, was simply pinned to the wall. A few years later, in 1972, Tuttle again created a stir with his "Wire Pieces," thin wires, almost invisible, hanging in irregular loops on a wall where the artist had drawn a few fine pencil lines. At the time, big hard-edge Minimal sculpture was prevalent in museums and art magazines. Pop Art was in full swing.

Tuttle was assigned to an art movement labeled Antiform, along with Eva Hesse who often worked with latex, Robert Morris who was working at the time with felt, Barry Le Va who made room-sized scatter pieces, and a few other artists However, as it turned out, Tuttle's work does not fit the category. Although his forms are unassuming, form itself is critical to the way his work activates the space around it and sticks permanently in the mind. A 1990 series of sculptures, made of thinly painted wood and titled "Inside, the Still Pure Form" is an example.

Barry Schwabsky, writing in Artforum, described Tuttle's work as "the concretized aura of an attitude," and Kathleen Whitney in Sculpture magazine said his work is "completely imaginative...rather than a summarization of existing thoughts." So many artists nowadays are summarizing existing thoughts, it is no wonder Tuttle's work seems extraordinarily original.

Tuttle is the subject of a major retrospective exhibition opening July 2, 2005 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and traveling in the next two years to the Whitney Museum in New York, the Des Moines Art Center, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. W magazine, in a recent feature story about the artist, says that his work is "among the most groundbreaking and subversive of the last forty years."

It is subversive of big, rowdy, impersonal, or violent art. It is groundbreaking in that it is, as one critic said, a "space-giver, not a space-taker." It is self-effacing, not highly finished, and not obviously concerned with current art ideas like "objecthood." In common with much of the best art of our time, it seems simple at a glance but becomes oddly complex as you give it thoughtful attention. If you are willing to go along with it, it opens up after a while and takes you somewhere else, a hopeful place. "I just think that people who have art in their lives have better lives," Tuttle has said.