In the Tower: Anne Truitt, Symposium Part II—Anne Truitt's Material Imagination
Anna Lovatt, Marguerite Hoffman Scholar in Residence, Meadows School of the Arts, Southern Methodist University. The studio life of Anne Truitt (1921–2004) is explored in the focus exhibition In the Tower: Anne Truitt, on view from November 19, 2017, through April 1, 2018. The first major presentation of Truitt's work at the National Gallery of Art, the exhibition celebrates the museum's acquisition of several major artworks by Truitt in recent years, including seminal works from the collection of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, as well as several outstanding loans. Bringing together nine sculptures, two paintings, and 12 works on paper representing the different media in which the artist worked, the exhibition traces Truitt's artistic development from 1961 to 2002. One of the most original and important sculptors to emerge in the United States during the 1960s, Truitt is unique in the field of minimalist art. She hand-painted her sculptures in multiple layers to create abstract compositions of subtle color in three dimensions. Her art is infused with memory and feeling, unlike much minimalist art, and while most of her peers were based in New York or Los Angeles, she worked alone and independently in Washington, DC. For a public symposium held on January 19, 2018, Anna Lovatt focuses on Truitt's writings, particularly those passages concerned with artistic materials. These passages move between a relatively straightforward, practical documentation of materials and techniques, and a more subjective identification with substances such as wood and water. Referring to Gaston Bachelard's Water and Dreams: An Essay on the Imagination of Matter, Lovatt argues that Truitt is an artist who “dreams with substances,” and that by considering her approach to materials rather than the formal properties of her sculpture, we can gain some new and surprising insights into her work.