21 January, 2011

21 January - Anne Truitt, TURN

LAUNCHPROJECTS - I am in the process of reading Anne Truitt's book Turn. Captivated with her work since I encountered First years ago (pictured above, left), I have since wanted to know more about the woman who made these pared down, elegant, powerful sculptures. Turn is a graceful journal of her thoughts and views on life, art, family, aging, and humility. I will blog more about specific sections of her writing - as with Weschler's stunning biography of Robert Irwin this is a book that I am reading slowly to take each word and insight as deliberately as it is written.

Her 5th of January, 1984 entry discusses meeting two curators from the National Gallery to discuss the cleaning of her sculpture Spume which had become dirty since it was acquired in 1972. She describes revisiting Spume after so many years, "one hundred twenty inches tall by 25 1/2 inches wide by 13 1/2 inches deep, luminescent blues and violets, it loomed over me. I straightened up to face it. In the first second of looking, I did not recognize it as my own work and only felt its presence, with an involuntary shudder. I was so taken aback that I rocked on the feet. 'What on earth - ?' were the first words that came into my mind, along with the very particular sharp tension I sometimes feel when I am making my work: as if I were being forced face to face with a mystery equally threatening and alluring."

She describes telling these "practical men with an object to deal with" that the best way to clean her sculpture is with soap and water, which took both curators aback - they were accustomed to complex problems with elaborate and expensive solutions. These important and otherwise occupied men stirred in Truitt a keen awareness that "once again my sculpture is a bother because it is large and has a delicate surface. Despite years of self-discipline, I can never entirely avoid identification with my work and when it is thought bothersome I feel as if I were myself criticized. I have thought a lot about this aspect of my work and wonder sometimes if the vulnerability of my sculptures does not combine with their size to awaken the subtle hostilities evoked when women retain innate delicacy even while asserting their existence."

So utterly in touch with her work and its deep resonance, Truitt throughout her journal epitomizes the force that exists at the intersection of confidence and vulnerability. Searingly truthful about both her wisdom and her limitations, Truitt once stated that life experiences are "the ground out of which art grows." Truitt lived a simple yet fertile and joyful existence. Her life and sculpture bring to mind a quote that Truitt's peer Louise Nevelson stated in a lecture in 1980. "True strength is delicate."

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