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Report from the Front

Art criticism, sometimes with context, occasional politics. Published in hard copy 2-4 times a year. New shows: "events;" hard copy rates & how to support the online edition: "works."



Installation view from "Anne Truitt Paintings", Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, September 14 – October 27, 2018. Image courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery. Photography: Aaron Wax. ©Estate of Anne Truitt / The Bridgeman Art Library / Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery.
Anne Truitt (1921-2004) is no longer with us, but her art most assuredly lives on. She is best known for her remarkably pure but nonetheless sinewy tall narrow sculptures, like square columns. Now that she is gone, this is the second Truitt paintings show that Matthew Marks (which represents the estate) has put on. I liked the first okay, but this one is much, much better—in fact, like socko.

The name of the show is “Anne Truitt Paintings,” it’s in the branch of Matthew Marks at 522 West 22nd Street, and it features eleven exquisite acrylics on canvas done between 1974 and 1993 (through October 27). Don’t miss it!

All of the canvases are practically monochromatic, just like Truitt’s sculptures – and, just like the sculptures, they sometimes have a narrow band of contrasting color--usually at the very top or bottom of the piece (though in one case down the middle).

The colors are the glossy, mellow ones she perfected in her sculpture, and the resulting paintings – especially the tall, narrow ones – look like two-dimensional versions of those sculptures.

The installation is inspired. The eleven paintings are displayed in four separate, spacious rectangular areas, so that every painting has a wall all to itself. Since none of these paintings are monumental in size, you might doubt that they could hold down all that space, but miraculously, they do.

The front space, with the receptionist’s desk, has one square painting, and the other area fronting on the street has two square paintings, facing each other. The space at the very back of the gallery has four horizontal ones, and the main area, in the center, has four tall, narrow vertical ones.

That main area, in particular, is like a walk-in Truitt sculpture, an installation that surrounds you on all four sides. As a rule, I’m not into installations, but this one is like magical. Each and every painting individually is beautiful, but the combination is even more than the sum of its parts.

I asked the gallery for an installation shot, and they have thoughtfully provided one, but as a photograph it can at best only show two out of four walls at a time, so it only gives you half of this effect. You have to go to the gallery to get the whole.
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