Frequently considered a Post-Minimalist, Richard Tuttle (b. 1941) is an influential artist whose work blurs the lines between painting, drawing, and sculpture. Born in Rahway, New Jersey, Tuttle received a B.A. from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and also studied at the Cooper Union in New York. Tuttle worked for a period as an assistant to painter Agnes Martin before coming to prominence for his own work in the 1960s.
Tuttle’s work is often idea-based and frequently takes the form of small three-dimensional objects that are simple but dynamic. In many pieces, he uses mundane materials such as rope, cardboard, plywood, and Styrofoam. His early works include small monochrome reliefs and irregularly-shaped dyed cloth pieces. Tuttle also uses light and shadow and the manipulation of the exhibition space to create his works, sometimes placing a work abnormally high or low on the wall to give the viewer a different perspective. His wire pieces of the 1970s, for example, consisted of a drawn pencil line on the wall and a length of wire that extends from the wall creating shadows. In the 1980s, Tuttle began making larger, multimedia assemblages. In the 1990s and 2000s, he created works such as painted plywood panels and canvas panels that functioned as both paintings and objects.
Throughout his career, Tuttle has been a devoted maker of books and much of his work displays the influence of calligraphy, poetry, and language. A lover of books, Tuttle was first introduced to book design in 1962 during his junior year of college when he edited the school yearbook. Since that time, Tuttle’s books have evolved along with his sculptures and have driven his involvement with printmaking. In addition to creating many artist’s books, he has also designed numerous exhibition catalogues. Important books by Tuttle include Story with Seven Characters (1965), an early book for which he invented seven glyphs, and Interlude: Kinesthetic Drawings (1974), a work based on his wire pieces of the 1970s. Other books are collaborations with poets, such as Hiddenness (1987), a book of poetry by his wife Mei-mei Berssenbrugge with colored paper pulp images by Tuttle, and The Altos (1991), with ten poems by Barbara Guest and eleven hand-colored softground etchings by Tuttle.
Tuttle’s art can be found in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and more. He is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture. In 2005, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art organized a retrospective of his work.
Books with Richard Tuttle available from Boreas Fine Art:
Tuttle, Richard. Perceived Obstacles. König: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König. 2000.
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