Hailed as the first ever Minimalist by Clement Greenberg, a term she refuted, Anne Truitt’s practice in sculpture, painting and drawing generated a new language of abstraction. Most known for her minimal and brightly colored totem-like sculptures, Truitt also made significant paintings during her lifetime that closely relate to her sculptural work in both form and color. As Truitt explained, “I regard them (the paintings) as inflections of sculpture,” revealing the transcendent potential of geometric abstraction.
The palette of Truitt’s 1970s work, dominated by colors traditionally gendered as feminine, can be seen as a provocative rejection of the austerity of Minimalism. Of her paintings Truitt said, “A force is only visible in its effect, and it is the split second in which this effect becomes just barely visible that haunts me.” Truitt’s intuitive use of color and compositional techniques set her apart from artists like Robert Morris and Donald Judd, with whom she is often compared.
Truitt spent most of her adult life in Washington, D.C. Her work has been the subject of three major museum retrospective exhibitions: at the Whitney Museum of American Art (1974); at the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Baltimore Museum of Art (1975), and at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (1992). During her lifetime Truitt received numerous awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship and five honorary doctorates. Her work is in the collection of many leading museums, including the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; DIA Art Foundation, New York; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.