Richard Tuttle

American, Born 1941

Richard Tuttle was born in Rahway, New Jersey. He graduated from Trinity College, Hartford, in 1963, with a BA in studio arts. Once in New York he took classes at Cooper Union and Pratt Institute, and began to work at the Betty Parsons Gallery, where he held his first solo show in 1965. Married to the Language poet Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge, he sees his work underpinned by words. “On the first real painting that I made in New York, I wrote out three different texts from the philosopher, Alfred North Whitehead, and then painted them out,” he told Bomb magazine in 1992. “At the time I thought, okay, I’m going to eliminate language from my efforts to communicate. But as I went on I saw that there had to be words there before I painted them out. In a way, words were the structure in which I made the decision not to use words.” Space and site are important to his works – the precise arrangement of a length of string on a concrete floor near a pillar, or the height of the piece on the wall. His materials are humble: twigs, cloth, cheap paper. The Vogels met him at a solo exhibition in 1968 and they became lifelong friends. Dorothy, in The Art of Richard Tuttle, was quoted on “days spent looking with Tuttle.” “We would focus on very slight details,” she said. Tuttle said of the couple: “Most of us go through the world never seeing anything. Then you meet somebody like Herb and Dorothy, who have eyes that see. Something goes from the eye to the soul without going through the brain.” His work has appeared in a large number of group shows, solo shows and retrospective shows from the 1960s to the present day.

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