to the small poem and the quiet voice within

anne truitt | daybook

In Kyōto I once saw women rinsing dyed cloths in the Kano River. The unwieldy lengths of cloth rippled out in long ribbons of blue and green and yellow and orange and red. The river rushed over the colors, the cloth whipped in the swift waves, the women held on to the streamers for dear life. It was a desperate business.

[from DAYBOOK, The Journal of an Artist, Penguin Books, 1982]

Anne Truitt (1921-2004) was a major American artist of the mid-20th century; she is associated with both minimalism and Color Field artists like Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland.

She graduated from Bryn Mawr College with a degree in psychology in 1943. She was married to James Truitt in 1948 (they divorced in 1969), and she became a full-time artist in the 1950’s. She made what is considered her most important work in the early 1960s anticipating in many respects the work of minimalists like Donald Judd and Ellsworth Kelly. She was unlike minimalists in some significant ways.

The sculpture that made her significant to the development of Minimalism were aggressively plain and painted structures, often large. The recessional platform under her sculpture raised them just enough off the ground that they appeared to float on a thin line of shadow. The boundary between sculpture and ground, between gravity and verticality, was made illusory. This formal ambivalence is mirrored by her insistence that color itself, for instance, contained a psychological vibration which when purified, as it is on a work of art, isolates the event it refers to as a thing rather than a feeling. The event becomes a work of art, a visual sensation delivered by color. Her first solo exhibition was in 1963 at the Andre Emmerich gallery, and in many senses her work also hews to what was emerging there. She was one of only three women included in the influential 1966 exhibition, “Primary Structures” at the Jewish Museum in New York. In Washington her work was represented by Pyramid Gallery which later became the Osuna Gallery.

She is also known for three books she wrote, Daybook, Turn, and Prospect, all journals. For many years she was associated with the University of Maryland, College Park, where she was a professor, and the artists’ colony Yaddo, where she served as interim president. The Estate of Anne Truitt is represented by Matthew Marks Gallery in New York. source


  1. Jujitsu Wiker

    A lush offering of script cradled
    gently in a small poetic parcel
    all wrapped up in a flawless ending.

  2. Barbara Vroman

    The washing of clothes in countries without our modern
    conveniences continues to fascinate me. I stare at the
    blinding white clothing of the people of India and wonder
    how it is managed. They say all the rivers are muddy and
    polluted. Is the sun so powerful it bleaches and smooths
    the fabrics right on their bodies? I would not want the challenge of washing clothes in the Ganges, but as a
    young mother mostly alone on an American prairie I remember wishing I could exchange my wash machine for the company of other women to gossip and sing with
    as I beat my clothes on the rocks. I would probably have
    repented my wish swiftly if it had come true.

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