The Journey of an Artist: Anne Truitt

The journals of sculptor Anne Truitt, a major figure in 20th century American art, are being re-released in print and audio versions in October. Bridgeman sat down with Truitt's daughter, Alexandra, to speak about her mother - the teacher, writer and artist.

Anne Truitt was a major figure in 20th century American art. But she didn't just define herself as an artist. She was also a teacher and writer. Working from Washington, DC, she came to the attention of the influential New York art critic Clement Greenberg in the early 1960s. In many ways, her work defied being labeled, but her early sculptures could also be said to have anticipated the work of minimalists such as Donald Judd and Robert Morris. In 1963, she was granted a solo exhibition at New York's Andre Emmerich Gallery, and she was one of only three women included in the seminal exhibition Primary Structures at the Jewish Museum in 1966. The journals she wrote about her life and practice have been published in three volumes: Daybook (1982), Turn (1987) and Prospect (1997). The books are unique in that Truitt is unabashedly honest about the struggles of being an artist while raising three children after a divorce. In one passage from Daybook she quips about dropping in to the studio for fifteen minutes between shopping and carpool. The journals are being re-released in print, e-book and audiobook formats in October 2013.


From left: A Wall for Apricots, Valley Forge, Oak, Knight's Heritage and Landfall by Anne Truitt


Bridgeman sat with Anne Truitt's daughter Alexandra to discuss her mother and she provided several quotes on the practice of being an artist.

BI:  What does it mean to you to have your mother's journals re-released to a whole new audience?

AT:  Having them back in print means a lot to me, as they had become inaccessible to many people — especially artists — who appreciate my mother's work.  In addition to being a writer, she was also a dedicated teacher who loved her students. In a sense, one of the aspects of her  journals is that they function as an extension of her teaching. Through them she articulates her process and practice. And in them she speaks honestly about the practical challenges of being both and an artist and a parent.


Whitney Retrospective, 1973; Image courtesy: Alexandra Truitt


"The context of art is, for me, the context of human life itself. I catch its fleeting points as best I can. I fail, and expect to continue to fail. In hot pursuit, I can, paradoxically, only watch from my own still center, learning from what I make."

- Anne Truitt, 1976

BI: What will be different about the new editions?

AT:  As a picture editor, I'm so pleased that for the first time her books will be illustrated with a new insert showing a selection of her artworks over the years. Second, the fact that her writings will be released in audio format means that her words will be available in a new format for a global audience. Her journals are timeless and appeal to writers, artists — really anyone who struggles with a creative calling amidst a hectic, schedule-based existence!


Alexandra Truitt is a freelance picture editor who lives in upstate New York.

Anne Truitt with her daughter Alexandra in her Stone South Studio, Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, 2001


You can see Anne Truitt's work in many permanent collections, such as the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in NY. This month, Matthew Marks Gallery in New York is featuring Truitt's work from the 1970s. Anne Truitt: Threshold will be on display until October 26, 2013.


Anne Truitt studio, Washington, D.C., 1980; Photo courtesy: Alexandra Truitt


"A final word about the pursuit of art. First, it is a pursuit, a voyage of discovery. Secondly, it can also be such a voyage for the observer. The artist places his life in the service of his fellow men. He distills its essence as best he can, and takes the responsibility for the risky business. Self-oriented as this pursuit necessarily is, he can, if he is successful, illuminate for others as well as for himself. This is, very basically, his hope — and perhaps his occasional reward."

- Anne Truitt, 1975

Bridgeman is pleased to represent works by Anne Truitt for licensing. Available online are images of her sculptures and paintings and candid photos of the artist at work in her studio and with family and contemporaries.


View all material relating to Anne Truitt available through Bridgeman.

Anne Truitt and Clement Greenberg in front of paintings by Robert Motherwell, Tokyo, Japan, 1966-7 (b/w photo)



Published by Penguin, print versions of Daybook and the omnibus of all three books are available through Audiobook versions of Daybook, Turn and Prospect will be available through and iTunes. All are available October 8, 2013.



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