Richard Tuttle: Walking on Air
Richard Tuttle, who joined PaceWildenstein in 2007, will have his first solo exhibition at the gallery this month. Walking on Air, an exhibition of twelve new works from 2008, will be on view at PaceWildenstein, 534 West 25th Street from March 20 through April 25, 2009. The artist will be present at an opening reception on Thursday, March 19th from 6-8 pm. A DVD with a recently filmed conversation between Richard Tuttle and Arne Glimcher will accompany the exhibition.
Measuring approximately 1' x 10', each of the twelve works in the exhibition is composed of two parallel bands of dyed fabric cloth, the top overlapping the bottom. A succession of grommets, sewn into the panels above and below, allows each work to hang on nails placed along the wall. Tuttle describes his new work as being “in a syncretic tradition, where the equal and opposite can co-exist and the abstract and the real are not in a state of ambiguity.” Walking on Air represents for him an “expression of elation for the potential for a new beginning, the possibility to rebuild and discover a harmony for existing in the world today.”
Throughout his career, Tuttle has deliberately sought to create works that command attention through quiet means and humble or fragile materials. His use of line has been a signature which he has continually reinvented, always freeing it from imitation, making it real, and creating energy at the same time. From his seminal Wire Pieces (1972), where Tuttle drew a pencil line on the wall, nailed floral wire to the line’s point of origin, conformed the wire to the line, and finally released it, creating a third line from the shadow; to his Line Pieces (1990) and “I See” (1993), in which objects are accompanied by pre-existing pencil lines; to his 3rd Rope Piece, first exhibited in the artist’s ten-year survey at the Whitney Museum of American Art (1975); and his Ten Kinds of Memory and Memory Itself, first installed in 1973, where his pencil line ran off of the wall, becoming lengths of string on the ground; Tuttle’s use of line crosses media and space, blurring categorical distinction.
Richard Tuttle (b. 1941, Rahway, New Jersey) received his B.A. from Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, in 1963. After graduating, Tuttle moved to Manhattan, where his fledgling career was briefly interrupted by a stint in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. With the help of painter Agnes Martin, who would become Tuttle’s lifelong confidante and mentor until her death in 2004, he began working at the Betty Parson’s Gallery. In Tuttle’s first solo exhibition at Betty Parsons in 1965, he exhibited his Constructed Paintings, quickly attracting attention from critics and other artists. Following his successful show at Parsons, Tuttle moved to Paris to become the first resident American artist at the Cité Internationale des Arts, on a C. Douglas Dillon Foundation grant. The work that he produced in Paris would lead to Tuttle’s polychromed Wheel (1966). Returning to New York in 1966, the artist produced his “tin pieces”, cutting and fitting galvanized iron sheets together with a thin soldered band. Tuttle would produce two bodies of such work, the second of which was made in three versions, each consisting of twenty-six pieces corresponding to the number of letters in the English alphabet. With Letters (The Twenty-Six Series) (1966), Tuttle enabled the continual evolution of the work by specifying that the work be exhibited any way that the installer wished.
The artist’s Paper Octagonals (1970) came at the end of a five-year period in which he continuously reduced the object quality of the octagonal shape, first in cloth, then in paper, and finally in wire. Ultimately, the reduction of the octagonals into wire would lead to Tuttle’s seminal Wire Pieces (1972). Tuttle’s Wood Slats (1975) were significant in leading the artist to adopt fifty-four inches off the ground (just below the average eye level) as the desired height at which his works be hung, engaging the viewer by stimulating direct physical interaction.
By 1975, Tuttle had his first major survey show at the Whitney Museum of American Art, which travelled to the Otis Art Institute Gallery of Los Angeles County in 1976. Nearly three hundred solo exhibitions of Tuttle’s work have been mounted since 1965 and his work has been included in hundreds of group exhibitions, including the Venice biennale (1976, 1997, 2001) and biennials at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1977, 1987, 2000) and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C (1969). In 2005, a major retrospective, The Art of Richard Tuttle, opened at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Curated by Madeleine Grynsztejn, this survey of forty years of Tuttle’s drawings, sculpture, paintings, and assemblages, would travel to five museums over two years: the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Des Moines Art Center, Iowa; Dallas Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. More recently, in 2008, Richard Tuttle: The Use of Time went on view at the Kunsthaus Zug, Switzerland, ten years after Replace the Abstract Picture Plane I, a major exhibition at the same museum. Tuttle presented three other large works from the 1990s (Replace the Abstract Picture Plane II – IV , 1996-1999) together with his newly executed Replace the Abstract Picture Plane V, highlighting them with a selection of works by Fritz Wotruba to serve as references to the permanent installations by both artists on the grounds in front of and behind the Kunsthaus Zug.
Richard Tuttle’s work can be found in nearly 50 major public collections worldwide, including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Art Institute of Chicago; Baltimore Museum of Art; Brooklyn Museum; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, Paris; Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio; High Museum, Atlanta; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; Indianapolis Museum of Art; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Switzerland; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark; Ludwig Museum, Cologne; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Musée nationale d’art moderne, Paris; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Norton Museum of Art, Florida; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Seattle Art Museum; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Richard Tuttle lives and works in Abiquiu, New Mexico and New York City.
For more information on Richard Tuttle: Walking on Air please contact Jennifer Benz Joy at email@example.com or Lauren Staub at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212.421.3292.