Anne Truitt made stele-like, minimal sculptures, hand-sanded and covered in bright bands of paint, which merged painting and sculpture. Her otherworldly seven-foot tall wooden monoliths have 20 or more layers of paint which give off a shimmering effect. She – like other female artists at this time – was disregarded by Minimalist male artists such as Donald Judd, who described her work as “appearing serious without being so.”
Truitt received her B.A. degree from Bryn Mawr College in 1943. She was a psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital from 1943-1946. She attended the Institute of Contemporary Art in Washington D.C. from 1948-1950 and became a full-time artist in 1950. With the exception of three years in Tokyo in the late 1960s, Truitt spent her working life in Washington D.C. From 1975-1980, she was a lecturer at the University of Maryland, and since 1980 a Professor.
Truitt had a long-time friendship with artist Kenneth Noland, whom she met in 1948. In the 1950s, she developed from working with stylized landscape pieces to geometrical clay sculpture, suggestive of primitive architectural forms. It was after Truitt saw the work of Barnett Newman in 1961 that she began working in the vertical sculpture form for which she is best known. Her columns were painted in color combinations, favored by Newman in the early 1950s, and their vertical configuration related to Newman’s narrow and tall series of Untitled canvases.
She was the subject of a solo show last year in a New York gallery (Matthew Marks Gallery). She left a significant body of work, including a number of nearly forgotten paintings, consisting of blocks of colors, from the 1970s. Before her death she said, “I’ve struggled all my life to get maximum meaning in the simplest possible form.”
Her nearly seven-foot tall, golden yellow “Summer Remembered” shimmers. Her sculptures and drawings, that spanned most of her career, were on display in the National Gallery of Art, one of which – “Memory” – reflects her background in psychology.
Truitt was a recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, Australian Arts Council fellowship, and Stem Foundation grant. In 2009 the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden held a retrospective of her work. In 2018, she had a major showing at the National Gallery of Art.
Her work is in the permanent collections of major museums, including the Whitney Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Walker Art Center, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Baltimore Museum of Art, Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts, and Washington, D.C.’s Hirshhorn Museum, National Gallery, and Museum of American Art.