A Paper Trail
Scattered on a studio floor, tacked above a desk, bound in small books or stored in archival drawers, an artist's work on paper has always been of particular interest to me. Follow my gallery wanderings and studio visits to discover unique works on paper.
The artist Anne Truitt distills a remarkable range of experience into form and color in this quiet arrangement of drawings at the Matthew Marks Gallery. How do I know? I have read Daybook, a journal of Truitt’s, and consider its fierce kernels of truth to offer a guide, a point of departure for the viewer who, like myself, might struggle to delve beyond the simple elegance of the exhibited illustrations. As a devoted fan of Truitt’s writing, I revisited the account of her life in these abstract compositions while allowing myself an experience of my own as I imagine she would have encouraged me to. I was swept away, circling the gallery space not so much looking for clues as assigning her colors, lines and shapes sensations of my own.
Truitt is most well known for her formal abstract sculptures, disciplined columns of construction and color that grace many American museums and private collections. Her works on paper are a complement to the sculptural work, compositions in their own right and distinct from the drawings she made, often in preparation for the three dimensional forms.
I am usually drawn to work on paper that is more organic, natural and exuberant. Truitt’s work is so calibrated, precise and controlled, bearing little relation to the flux and incongruities of the natural world around us. And yet, having read her prose, I see her shapes and colors as infused with the enduring content of her life – the complexity of pain, pleasure, triumph and failure that composes our collective everyday lives.
Spend some time looking. As Truitt once said in the aftermath of what was often harsh criticism of her work, “There is a small center into which conception can arrive. And when it arrives, you make it welcome with your experience.” Advice to heed at your next museum tour or gallery show.