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A Mystic Commitment: Richard Tuttle installs historic work at ICA Speaks


“I am going to walk over there and put up this piece. I won’t take this microphone with me… Perhaps this sends a message or shows that I’m committed to the individual—and I might say to the mystic, as well.” In a moment of unexpected spontaneity, renowned conceptual artist Richard Tuttle installs and reflects upon the spiritual significance of a historic work from his “Blue/Red” series. Watch Tuttle’s full lecture here.

Richard Tuttle (b. 1941, Rahway, New Jersey) is one of the most significant artists working today. Tuttle’s work exists in the space between painting, sculpture, poetry, assemblage, and drawing. He draws beauty out of humble materials, reflecting the fragility of the world in his poetic works. Without a specific reference point, his investigations of line, volume, color, texture, shape, and form are imbued with a sense of spirituality and informed by a deep intellectual curiosity. Language, spatial relationship, and scale are also central concerns for the artist, who maintains an acute awareness for the viewer’s aesthetic experience.

He has been the subject of more than two-hundred solo exhibitions during his career, including his first museum exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, curated by Marcia Tucker (1975), and his traveling retrospective organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2005). His work is held in more than fifty public collections worldwide and has been included in numerous important group shows including Documenta (1972, 1977, 1982) and the Venice Biennale (1976, 1997, 2001). In 2015, the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia presented Both/And: Richard Tuttle Print and Cloth, an installation conceived by the artist that featured work spanning five decades of his career, as well as new print and kimono works. The show coincided with an exhibition of Tuttle’s wire pieces from 1972 at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis, Missouri. Tuttle currently lives and works in Abiquiu, New Mexico; Mount Desert, Maine; and New York.