Anne Truitt

Published in a private collection catalogue.

“What is important to me is not geometrical shape per se, or color per se, but to make a relationship between shape and color which feels to me like my experience. To make what feels to me like reality.”[1]

An influential and prolific American artist, Anne Truitt (1921-2004) was born in Baltimore and grew up in the coastal Maryland town Easton. Originally trained in psychology, Truitt worked as a nurse and research assistant in psychiatry during World War II. Even though she didn’t pick up visual artmaking until the 1950s, she wrote poems and stories in her youth. The artist married James McConnell Truitt in 1947 and moved to Washington, D.C. While she continued to write in the following years, she also began concentrating on fine arts: She studied sculpture at the Institute of Contemporary Art and Dallas Museum of Fine Art in 1949-1950. By the early 1960s, Truitt had become a multifaceted artist fluent in painting, drawing, and writing; and after experimenting with a wide range of materials and techniques, she also started to produce her now signature sculptures painted in serene, dense colors that complement the shape of the rectangular, wooden structures.

Following her first solo exhibition at André Emmerich Gallery in 1963, Truitt received various awards and recognition; including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Cather Medal. Her work is part of distinguished collections and museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Dia: Art Foundation, and MoMA. She is also the author of three books: Daybook (Pantheon, 1982), Turn (Viking, 1986), and Prospect (Scribner, 1996).

Truitt’s works skillfully combine color and form in their truest essence, examining their connections and spatial characteristics in relation to one another. Her paintings and drawings also draw from this relationship to achieve the highest simplicity with the most meaning, this time on two-dimensional surface of paper and canvas. Both her sculptures and paintings reveal to the viewer an abstraction of various figures from Truitt’s own past, feelings, and imagination.

A six-feet tall columnal structure, Summer Child (1973) is a brilliant example of Truitt’s characteristic style. This rectangular sculpture, very humanlike in its size and emotion, is painted in two tones of dark, ochre-hued yellow. Even though the artist was influenced by Minimalist artists such as Frank Stella and Ellsworth Kelly, her art is distinctive in the dozens of meticulously painted and sanded, thin layers of paint over wood. Summer Child was exhibited in Truitt’s Corcoran and Whitney Museum shows. Accompanying the sculpture, Way I (1974) is one of Truitt’s large-scale paintings. Despite the heavily loaded canvas, Way I feels like a fresh winter day with its crisp, bright tones of light blue and powdery white. The painting features a straight line off-axis, making the viewer’s eye wander around the composition. Three drawings, Summer 97 No. 1, (1997), Summer 88, No. 4 (June 8, 1988) (1988), and 10 January, 1971, (1971) are all smaller scale drawings Truitt executed with acrylic paint within three decades, and their muted, opaque colored stillness is stylistically coherent with Way I and Summer Child. These drawings show another side of Truitt’s persona, as they give a glimpse of her daily ritual of drawing.


[1] Anne Truitt, 1965. Source: Anne Truitt Foundation, http://www.annetruitt.org/bio.