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Anne Truitt: Perception and Reflection.

Anne Truitt: Perception and Reflection

By Kristen Hileman

Smithsonian Institution, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, 2009

Despite her objections, it is inevitable that Anne Truitt's painted rectilinear structures would be seen within the rubric of Minimalism. However, both Hileman and essayist James Meyer show how Truitt never bought into a reductive formalist discourse, instead infusing her forms with poignant meaning. More properly (because the forms themselves did not exist prior to their meaningfulness) after initial forays into psychology and fiction, Truitt's longstanding interests in the experiences of time, space, and selfhood congealed into highly reduced yet eccentrically colored sculpture. As Hileman puts it, "... Truitt's art emerges as a language or, more rightly, a literature of abstraction uniquely and inextricably linked to life" (43).

Truitt's disinterest in unadorned materiality in favor of the associative and illusionistic properties of color gained her the support of Clement Greenberg--a decidedly mixed blessing. In this context, it is amusing to read the reviews of Donald Judd and Michael Fried, who were confounded by the disconnection between painted areas and physical structure. In Hileman's account, these critics' struggle with a quality that has since become practically de rigueur, i.e., the demonstrative refusal of a universally authoritative system, suggests that Truitt may be a model for the practice of abstraction today. However rigorous her formal parameters, she kept her work permeable to a stream of impressions from emotional and intellectual experience.

Meyer explores the mechanisms of Truitt's signification. The titular "Bicycle" in his essay is the vehicle by which the young Anne explored her surroundings of Easton, Maryland, ever mindful of volume, space, and passing time. Drawing upon semiotic theory, Meyer then proposes that the bicycle and, more explicitly, a reflective globe lawn ornament which also figures in the artist's memoirs, serve as examples of synecdoche, or the appearance of an isolated part for a larger whole.

Among the book's many enticing photographs are the late Pith series, for which Truitt cut irregular pieces of canvas and picked at the threads around the perimeters before covering them in thick black acrylic. These seemingly anomalous works in fact affirm Truitt's lifelong intertwining of painting and sculpture. Flat on the page, their dimensionality is difficult to ascertain, but photography is never fair or adequate to sculpture. Suitably, Hileman and Meyer take pains to account for the unpredictable differences from one side to another of Truitt's more signature work.

Both essays are rich in detailed description, along with insights and documentation that will make this book an important resource on Truitt in the future. There is also an extensive chronology, bibliography, and list of exhibitions.

Reviewed by Vittorio Colaizzi, Assistant Professor of Art History at Winona State University.

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Title Annotation:Short Takes
Author:Colaizzi, Vittorio
Publication:Woman's Art Journal
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 22, 2011
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