PRINT January 2010


The work of Anne Truitt has always stood slightly apart: Concurrent with Minimalism and Color Field painting, but never quite commensurate with their terms, her oeuvre has long eluded categorization and, for that matter, sustained critical reception. On the occasion of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s recent groundbreaking retrospective, the late artist’s first in thirty-five years, Artforum asked art historian Anne M. Wagner to revisit Truitt’s inimitable engagement with temporality, shape, and medium.

Anne Truitt, First Requiem, 1977, acrylic on wood, 90 x 8 x 8". Four views.

“THE PAST,” WROTE L. P. HARTLEY in The Go-Between, “is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” But where does the border lie between past and present? Why do some events and experiences feel unbearably distant and others not estranged at all? How far away, to choose a less than random example, are the major and minor happenings of 1974? That was the year that a sitting president resigned under threat of impeachment, an heiress was kidnapped and (temporarily) radicalized, computers arrived in the nation’s newsrooms, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre made movie history, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art hosted the first—and, until now, only—museum retrospective of Anne Truitt’s work. In 2004, she died at the age of eighty-three.

Thirty-five years is an unforgivably long time between retrospectives for an artist of this caliber. Why the delay? Was it that Truitt’s

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