Anne Truitt’s first mature works consist of simple sculptural abstractions that evoke the vernacular architecture of her childhood home in Easton, Maryland. Drawing on her memory of fences, she produced two predetermined groups of sequential sculptures with vertical segments that increase incrementally from one to seven. Soon after, for her first solo exhibition at the André Emmerich Gallery in New York in 1963, she presented large, upright structures painted in dark hues, which were extrapolated from the geometry of Easton’s colonial architecture. These sculptures were placed directly on the ground and introduced the serial syntax and bodily scale of Minimalism.
Throughout the 1960s, Truitt was included in canonical Minimalist exhibitions, such as Black, White and Grey at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1964, and Primary Structures at the Jewish Museum in New York in 1966. However, her bold and intuitive use of hand-applied color and allusive subject matter set her practice apart from the aesthetic of artists like Donald Judd and Robert Morris. Where they restricted line and color to eschew external meaning, reacting against the subjectivity of Abstract Expressionism, Truitt harnessed this legacy to explore the transcendent potential of the Minimal object. Much like Agnes Martin’s precisely painted grids, which occupy a transitional role between New York School painting and Minimal strategies, Truitt’s work serves as a bridge, mediating between the two opposing aesthetic positions. As she explained, “I have struggled all my life to get maximum meaning in the simplest possible form.”