Richard Tuttle (b. 1941, Rahway, New Jersey) is one of the most significant artists working today. Since the mid-1960s, he has created an extraordinarily varied body of work that eludes historical or stylistic categorization. Tuttle’s work exists in the space between painting, sculpture, poetry, assemblage, and drawing. He draws beauty out of humble materials, reflecting the fragility of the world in his poetic works. Without a specific reference point, his investigations of line, volume, color, texture, shape, and form are imbued with a sense of spirituality and informed by a deep intellectual curiosity. Language, spatial relationship, and scale are also central concerns for the artist, who maintains an acute awareness for the viewer’s aesthetic experience. Tuttle was the Artist in Residence at the Getty Research Institute from September 2012–June 2013. The artist lives and works in Mount Desert, Maine; Abiquiu, New Mexico and New York City.
New York—Pace Gallery is pleased to present 26, an exhibition of works by Richard Tuttle spanning fifty years of the artist’s career. 26 will be on view from May 6 to June 11, 2016 at 510 West 25th Street, with an opening reception for the artist on Thursday, May 5 from 6 to 8 p.m. To accompany the exhibition, a catalogue will be published with a conversation between the artist and Bill Brown, the Karla Scherer Distinguished Service Professor in American Culture at the University of Chicago.
The exhibition will include works from Tuttle’s twenty-six solo gallery shows in New York: Betty Parsons Gallery (1965, 1967, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1974, 1978, 1982); BlumHelman Gallery (1983, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1990); Mary Boone Gallery (1992, 1993, 1995); Sperone Westwater (1996, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007); and Pace Gallery (2009, 2011, 2012, 2014).
Extending from Tuttle’s constructed paintings shown in 1965 at Betty Parsons Gallery to his Looking for the Map works from Pace’s 2014 exhibition, 26 will trace the artist’s work brought together for the first time. Using a historic framework as a way of looking forward, the show will include works such as M – Violet – M (1965), a plywood relief with a painted monochromatic surface, and First Paper Octagonal (1970), an irregularly shaped octagon cut from white paper and affixed directly to the wall.
26 will include three of Tuttle’s galvanized tin “letters”—early examples of the artist’s commitment to language—as well as a wire piece, a notebook drawing, a textile work, a selection of wall-bound assemblages, and other works that reveal the artist’s enduring focus of what he has referred to as “making something which looks like itself.”
The exhibition at Pace coincides with Richard Tuttle: Critical Edge, a presentation of new works in fabric at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, which is on view from April 2 to June 26, 2016.
Richard Tuttle (b. 1941, Rahway, New Jersey) has been the subject of numerous major solo exhibitions including his 1975 exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, curated by Marcia Tucker, and a 2005 retrospective organized by Madeline Grynsztejn at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art that toured the United States. In 2014, he exhibited in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall; simultaneously, the Whitechapel Gallery, London, presented I Don’t Know. Or The Weave of Textile Language, a survey of his textile works that traveled to the Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia. Other recent exhibitions include Wire Pieces at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, St. Louis (2015), and a retrospective of his prints organized by Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine (2014) that remains on view through May 7 at the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art. Tuttle was included in the five-artist exhibition Drawing Redefined, curated by Jennifer Gross,at the deCordova Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts (2015–16).
His work is held in more than fifty public collections worldwide, including Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, Paris; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Tate, London; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others.
Richard Tuttle lives and works in Mount Desert, Maine; Abiquiu, New Mexico; and New York. This is his fifth exhibition at Pace.
Twenty-six. A collection of signs, a set of symbols, a system. Symbolic of structure. The contents of an alphabet, the foundation of a language. Twenty-six. An exhibition history, a selection of objects, a list. A past, in the present. The centrality of a career. Twenty-six reinventions of the line. Historic works in the here and the now. A visual vocabulary, the spine of a body of work.
1. Low reliefs in thin plywood with monochrome acrylic surfaces, existing in a liminal space between painting and sculpture. Dimensional, they are hung on the wall or placed on the floor.
2. Shapes cut from thin sheets of galvanized metal, fitted, soldered into a collection of symbol-like forms. Evocative of the components of an alphabet, further suggested by the total number of elements.
3. Irregularly shaped octagonals, some with cut-out interior spaces, unstretched canvas with edges cut and seamed by hand. Dye integrates color with surface, and the sewn edges and wrinkles create dimensionality. The works have no assigned orientation: no front, no back, no top, no bottom.
4. Octagonals cut free-hand from white paper, irregular shapes. Thin, approaching dematerialization, they are affixed to a white wall, which can be seen through the paper surface.
5. Drawings in three parts: a pencil line on a white wall, a length of wire that comments on the line, the shadow cast on the wall by the wire. A line, extended into and occupying space.
6. Plywood slats positioned against the wall and reaching vertically to intentional and specific heights. The thin sides of the planks are painted the same color as the wall, minimizing the distinction between the object and its surroundings.
7. Thick watercolor paper, cut and collaged into abstract shapes, often with gently curved edges. Folds expose the front and back of the paper—a gesture that nears low relief. Surfaces are painted with a watercolor wash through which the texture of the paper is visible.
8. Drawings on sheets of notebook paper, the incorporation of handmade frames. The paper and frame as one. Lines that exist only as themselves. The effects of thin washes that have dried on the surface: a new dimensionality.
9. Wall-dependent assemblage, incorporating found and readily accessible materials that focus on formal instead of associative qualities. The colors are unmixed, and the connective techniques used in the work’s construction are emphasized.
10.Combined materials exist as a whole, not individual elements. An interest in surfaces with the ability to reflect and integrate light: cellophane, plastic, metal, glass.
11. A broad range of materials, often including those that exist at the periphery of artistic practice, packing materials. Volumetric constructions with irregular edges.
12. Assemblage shifts from the vertical support of the wall to the horizontal of the floor. Draped cloth on wood armatures, creating forms that appear to collapse and expand simultaneously. The folds and creases in the cloth emphasize materiality, resisting symbolic reference.
13.The confluence of artwork and its environment. Wall paintings, low relief sculpture, and framed notebook drawings. Assemblages use scrap wood from New Mexico, and the drawings on notebook paper involve colorful, energetic markings.
14. Floor-bound sculptures and tall pencil lines running vertically up the gallery walls. An attention to marginal spaces.
15. Invented, uneven form. It is only itself.
16. Low relief, wall-bound pieces with constituent elements. Wood, latex, fabric, masonite, styrofoam, paper, graphite, plywood, enamel, nails, cloth, galvanized metal, masking tape.
17. Relief forms in shaped panels made from pressed wood scraps. Carved, irregular edges extend into space. Fibers of the composite surface are exposed and visible through fields of acrylic.
18. Surfaces overlap in a relief, an overlay. Plywood with diluted paint, lines in pencil and shapes in acrylic. A title, the mention of two places.
19. Plywood squares, painted with acrylic, paired with painted wood blocks. The wood grain of the panels exposed, and shadows cast by the attached blocks. The engagement of low-relief and color with drawing.
20. Shaped contours in foam core and museum board, the presence of shadows. Shallow reliefs, brightly painted in acrylic with brushstrokes evident.
21. Materials measured only against themselves: acrylic, graphite, spun plastic fixed to the wall. Transparency, opacity, concrete space.
22. Volume, folds, metal armatures, cast shadows. Textural and material variation: paper, plastic, glue, foil, paint, wood, wire.
23. Parallel bands of dyed cloth. Overlapping panels sewn with grommets, a line. A merging, a co-existence.
24. Freestanding, open sculpture with outer frames on the vertical axis. Interior assemblage of diverse element. Systems, space, poetry.
25. Physical expansions of space. Spatiality and form, the horizontal plane.
26. Fabric and metal, paper clips, wood box forms, boards, and planks. Pleats and folds, silk, muslin, gauze. Colors, fibers, a textile language.
ART21's Exclusive series presents Richard Tuttle's exhibition walkthrough of 26. In the interview, Tuttle reflects on a decades-long career, and the conceptual, thematic, and stylistic threads that can be consistently traced through his 26 New York gallery exhibitions. Learn more on ART21's website here.
Richard Tuttle interviewed by Bill Brown
2016. Pace Gallery. Paperback
90 pages: 61 color illustrations; 10 15/16 x 8 ⅞