Anne Truitt has always stood out in my mind as having a command over peculiar color. Truitt’s totemic wood sculptures hover on their bases and emit color from the inside out. This is achieved through a laborious process of mixing pigments, application, sanding down, and applying layer after layer in this manner. Pigment settles deeply into the very fiber and grain of the wood. At a certain point the “woodness” falls away and strangely, color takes on an agency of its own, supported by the structure itself. Truitt’s instinct for color and form has led her to attribute certain references to nature, geographic place, time of day, as well as the corresponding qualities of light in titles such as, A Wall for Apricots, Autumn Dryad, and Valley Forge.
Anne Truitt began exhibiting her geometric minimalist abstractions in 1961. And in 2009 I visited The Hirshhorn Museum’s exhibition, “Anne Truitt: Perception and Reflection” curated by Kristen Hileman. Although the installation and display strategies of the work were problematic and detract from the sculptures, it was a very complete introduction to Truitt’s oevure. The sculptures have a presence that came as a surprise and felt uncanny due to their body-like scale.
Writing in April, 1965, Truitt stated: “What is important to me in 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.” (Private papers.) –Anne Truitt.org
In Anne Truitt, Working, a film by Jem Cohen, Truitt points to a “sickish color” and talks about layering that one under another in order for it to “zoom into being, in order to lift up ten feet into the air.” (fast forward to 2:14). Cohen sums up Truitt’s endeavors in color as one that is “scientific search and in ways a spiritual search” in an attempt to “set color free in three dimensions.”