Richard Tuttle (American, b. 1941)
Richard Tuttle is an influential contemporary American artist. Working across media and disciplines, his works are characterized by their thoughtful subtlety. Tuttle’s compositions are formed through the carefully considered relationships between form, color, and material, generating a universe of intimate connections bridging the gaps between art, life, and thought. “If you’re going to be a visual artist, then there has to be something in the work that accounts for the possibility of the invisible, the opposite of the visual experience,” he has said. “A painting or a sculpture really exists somewhere between itself, what it is, and what it is not—you know, the very thing. And how the artist engineers or manages that is the question.” His aesthetic direction is often discussed within the context of Post-Minimalism, and his contributions to the contemporary art sphere are extensive.
Tuttle was born in Rahway, New Jersey and raised in nearby Roselle. He studied art, philosophy and literature at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut from 1959 to 1963. After receiving his B.A. in 1963, he moved to New York where he spent a semester at the Cooper Union and had a brief stint in the U.S. Air Force. He then began working at the Betty Parsons Gallery. One year after taking a job as an assistant to Betty Parsons, she gave him his first show in 1965.
Though Tuttle’s work is now canonical, it was met with fierce criticism early in his career: the artist’s 1975 solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art was received terribly by many prominent critics, most famously by Hilton Kramer of the New York Times, and curator Marcia Tucker—who went on to found the New Museum of Contemporary Art later that year—was fired from the museum, allegedly because of the controversy surrounding the show. Thirty years later, Tuttle’s 2005 retrospective at the Whitney was welcomed with great enthusiasm from critics and audiences alike.
Tuttle has been the recipient of many awards for his work, including the 74th American Exhibition, Art Institute of Chicago Biennial Prize, the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture in 1998, and the Aachen Art Prize in 1998 from the Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst. In 2012, he was elected to the National Academy and in 2013 he was invited to become a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Tuttle was the artist in residence at the Getty Research Institute from September 2012 through June 2013.
His work is held in more than 50 public collections worldwide, including Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, Paris; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Tate, London; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others.