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exhibition: Richard Tuttle: Constructed Relief Paintings, 1964-65

date: 3 November 2005 - 28 January 2006

Richard Tuttle: Constructed Relief Paintings, 1964-65 at Peter Freeman, Inc. is the first exhibition since 1965 to focus exclusively on the seminal wooden sculptures with which Richard Tuttle helped to define Minimal art. Almost a dozen major works will be included, many of which have rarely been seen.

Tuttle's first exhibition, at Betty Parsons Gallery in September 1965, consisted of 20 painted wood sculptures, all from 1965. The present exhibition includes a number of works from that important show, as well as an extremely rare 1964 painting on shaped and mounted canvas that was a genesis for the wood sculptures. Also included is a work shown only once before, at the Wadsworth Atheneum, in 1966, but which has been entirely hidden from public view since that time.

As one of the inventors of Minimal art, Tuttle's work has always been defined by a palpable presence of the hand, and differs from most other Minimal artists for Tuttle's use of a vocabulary of invented geometries rather than a reliance on existing geometries. The installation of these early works in the gallery space, just as in the 1965 Betty Parsons show, reads like an inventory of essential, and yet enigmatic, poetic forms.

Tuttle called his 1965 exhibition Constructed Paintings, but for this exhibition chose to add the word "Relief" as a way to emphasize that these works are as much sculpture as they could be painting. With hindsight, it is clear that one of the great strengths of this influential body of work was a radical blurring of definitions for strict categories of art, a trait that would define much of Tuttle's art and an attitude that would become even more pronounced in his following body of work, the Cloth pieces of 1967.

Richard Tuttle: Constructed Relief Paintings, 1964-65 coincides with the opening of a major Tuttle retrospective at the Whitney Museum.