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Richard Tuttle: Introduction To Practice

Curated by Victor Wang
M WOODS Museum 
March 16, 2019 - Jun 2, 2019

‘A Treatise on Stars’ (2019)

[Detail] ‘A Treatise on Stars’ (2019)

[Detail] ‘A Treatise on Stars’ (2019)

Richard Tuttle: Introduction To Practice” is the first ever museum survey in China of the work of renowned artist and poet Richard Tuttle, taking place in Beijing in March 2019 and curated by Victor Wang 王宗孚.

The importance of Beijing to the artist is summed up by the poem he wrote during his stay there: “Still the capital allows for hiding in plain sight”.

The exhibition was developed as a path, a specific journey into the visual and ‘un-visual’ language that constitutes a ‘practice’. This five-decade survey of one hundred works, organised in close collaboration with the artist, focuses on his pursuit of art for life, and an art form that is both from, and not from, a lineage; a language and practice of making that is about reality and concerned with strengthening the spirit.

[Detail] Ground Works (2017-2019)

’Looking For The Map 11’ (2014)

‘Painted Box 19’ (1999)

’3rd Wire Piece’ (1972)

’6th Rope Piece’ (1974)

[Detail] Ground Works (2017-2019)

[Detail] Ten Kinds of Memory and Memory Itself (1973)

Each path in the exhibition corresponds to a gallery in the museum: these were created using a system developed by the artist and curator, called ‘clusters’, in which a single cluster includes three works representative of a series. Allowing artworks from different periods to be arranged together into new harmonies. In total the exhibition includes thirty-three clusters from Tuttle’s five-decade career, around one hundred artworks in total, including a major sculptural commission, new works made during his stay in Beijing, and a unique publication consisting of ten books. Further, a special symbol and ‘exhibition furniture’ developed by the artist provides the architectural framework for the exhibition design, influencing, for example, the ways in which walls are built to the directions of the paths in the museum, allowing the audience to experience the whole show itself as a work of art.

Since the mid-1960s, Richard Tuttle’s work has transcended the defined artistic categories of sculpture, painting, drawing and poetry, whilst resisting art-historical categories such as minimalism or abstraction. With open-mindedness, Tuttle moves beyond the aesthetic conditions of low or high material in art, finding strength in fragility and in the shifting connections between scale and environment. From early in his career Tuttle has created work that is continuously contemporary whilst comparatively pushing his practice beyond previous iterations. In his 1972 exhibition that featured his Wire Pieces, a visitor to Betty Parsons Gallery in New York approached the dealer and asked whether the artist’s work could be described as ‘minimalist’. Parsons curtly replied: “to hell with -isms, Richard Tuttle is a great artist. He’s in love with the new”.[1] In his first major survey, held in 1975 at the Whitney Museum in New York, Tuttle again pushed the definition of art through scale, method and material, furthering his investigation into the visible and the invisible world and mounting one of the Whitney's most provocative and controversial shows, which has acquired somewhat legendary status.[2]

From his Third Rope Piece (1974), a (1/2 x 3 x 3/8 in) length of cotton washing-line attached to the wall by three nails, which when first displayed in the 1970s, created shock and intense interest by critiques and art audiences for its boldness and resolution as an artwork, to his 2014 commission for the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern entitled I Don’t Know: the Weave of Textile Language, which measures 24 metres long and 12 metres high, Tuttle weaves scale and environment together to highlight the powerful interrelationship between art as ‘place’ and as context.

Included in the MWOODS exhibition is Tuttle’s pivotal work Letters (The Twenty-Six Series), 1967, which was also included in the 1975 Whitney Museum survey: the presentation of this work was rearranged throughout the duration of the exhibition and represents an important shift in both Tuttle’s practice as an artist, and for American conceptualism. The artist instructed that the work be installed in any way the gallery staff wished, thus allowing the work to evolve continuously through installation changes,[3]offering both the institution and the audience an involvement in the production and reception of the work.

Also included are his Paper Octagonals, which when first exhibited in the 1970s, pushed the boundaries of minimalism and site-specific art. First made in cloth, then in paper, and finally in wire, this reduction of object quality to geometric form developed over a five-year period shows Tuttle’s continued interest to break from the rectangular field of art and the environment in which it is shown. The shape of the works is based on a square set on its side and cut off at its corners.[4]  Each paper octagonal is further embedded into a space when pasted directly onto the wall, allowing the architecture and work to be bound together, as the wall’s surface shows through the thin, almost translucent, paper works. Becoming an early example of the intersections of art and architecture.

Another important early series, Wire Pieces, was made in situ in the museum, and this is unique with every installation. Tuttle describes the works as ‘capturing the types of experience that cannot be repeated’. Likewise, no wire piece in the series is the same. Keeping within the artist’s scale, and informed by his hand, Tuttle unspools a long filament of metal wire, nailing one end to the wall and then methodically following the wire’s contours with a pencilled line on the wall, creating an almost illusionary depth and connection between both lines. Likewise, in his Line Pieces (1990) the pre-existing artwork is accompanied by a site-specific pencilled line drawn on the wall by the artist, further integrating the artwork into the environment and the place.

The museum’s central hall will feature a new major site-specific installation that consists of a five-foot high aluminium mesh ceiling and an eight-layered fabric wall sculpture entitled ‘A Treatise on Stars’ (2019), that brings the immense architecture into conversation. A series of new hand-painted floor tiles entitled ‘Ground-Works’, which the viewer can stand on, will be installed in selected galleries.

Accompanying the exhibition will be a unique book designed by the artist. This distinctive self-contained publication is composed of ten smaller printed books enclosed within one larger book.  Like previous publications by the artist, it moves between artwork and printed matter. Over the course of his career, Tuttle’s commitment to creating powerful artworks as a tool that serves society is reflected in the direction of the exhibition. By mounting a survey using the non-chronological cluster system, we get a better understanding of Tuttle’s language and what Tuttle himself describes as, “a way to bring us closer to understanding what art is”.

[1] Neal Benezra , Director’s Foreword, The Art of Richard Tuttle, ed. by Madeleine Grynsztejn (San Francisco, CA: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2005), pp 7

[2] Arthur Lubow, ‘The Curse of the Whitney’,New York Times, April 11, 1999, accessed Dec 08,

[3] Madeleine Grynsztejn ‘A Universe of Small Truths’, in: The Art of Richard Tuttle, p. 30

[4] Grynsztejn, p.33

[Chinese Version]











自上世纪60年代中期塔特尔的创作生涯伊始之时,他的作品便打破了雕塑、架上绘画、纸本画作和诗歌等不同媒介的传统定义,他同时也拒绝如极简主义或抽象风格这类艺术史的分类方法。以一种开明的视野与心胸,塔特尔摈除了材料之间高低品质的美学分野,他在脆弱性中发掘张力,也在作品规模与其呈现环境之间的变化关系中找到潜能。自始至今,塔特尔持续地创作具有当代性的作品,同时不断超越此前的范式。1972年,当他的作品《金属线》在纽约贝蒂·帕森斯画廊展出时,一位观众向画廊主帕森斯问道,这件作品是否可以被认为属于极简主义。她不悦地答道:“让这些主义滚蛋吧!理查德·塔特尔是一位伟大的艺术家,他乐于创新。”[2] 1975年,他的首个大型研究性个展在纽约惠特尼美术馆举办,艺术家再次在作品规模、创作方法和材料等方面拓展了艺术的定义,他本人在视觉或非视觉的艺术世界的研究探索也更进一步。这也是惠特尼美术馆有史以来最具挑衅性和争议性的展览之一,今天它已然具有了某种传奇色彩。[3]

1974年,塔特尔创作了《第三条绳索》,这件作品第一次展出时便以大胆和果决在艺评界与观者中引起了轰动,而它仅由一根极短的棉质晾衣绳(1.27 × 7.26 × 0.95厘米)和将其悬挂在墙上的三枚钉子组成。从这件作品到泰特美术馆涡轮大厅委托创作的长达24米、高达12米的大型装置《我不知道,纤维之语的交织》(2014),塔特尔善于利用作品的规模并将这一元素编织进展览环境,强调了作为场域的艺术和作为语境的艺术之间强大的相互联系。










王宗孚是一位独立策展人和展览制作人,现居住和工作在上海、伦敦两地。他是纽约Performa的副策展人,同时也曾担任近期出版的《1960-1990东亚表演史》(DRAF2018)的编辑。近年来,王宗孚策划了在以下美术馆及艺术廊的展览:柏林国立博物馆(2019待展)、上海香格纳画廊(2018)、伦敦白教堂美术馆(2018)、伦敦赛迪HQ画廊(2017)、上海Cc基金会&艺术中心(2017)、上海当代艺术馆艺术亭台(2016)、上海chi K11美术馆(2016)、以及伦敦当代艺术学院(2014)。另外,王宗孚也曾参与策划第十二届哈瓦那双年展(2015)以及第九届上海双年展温哥华馆(2012)。王宗孚在多个大学讲授过当代中国艺术相关课程,如东京艺术大学,考陶尔德艺术学院以及伦敦中央圣马丁学院。他也曾在伦敦皇家艺术学院担任客座讲师。

关于 M WOODS 木木美术馆

M WOODS木木美术馆坐落于北京798艺术区,是由收藏家林瀚、雷宛萤(晚晚)和黄勖夫于2014年共同创办的民营非营利美术馆。作为中国本土面向公众的新型全球性艺术平台,M WOODS将定期举办展览,并推出公共活动、艺术出版物以及艺术家驻留计划等项目。美术馆艺术项目主要依托美术馆馆藏,从中国古画石刻到现当代影像装置,以不限于特定时代、地域或媒介的收藏,致力于探寻艺术的普适性、纯粹性及恒久性,从而探索当下美术馆的职责。2015年,M WOODS被官方认证为非盈利的民营美术馆。我们将持续的推出展览与公共教育项目,推动艺术在中国民众中的传播

[1] 原文“Everything Is Below Silence.”为艺术家理查德·塔特尔诗作。本文由策展人王宗孚撰写。

[2] Neal Benezra , Director’s Foreword, The Art of Richard Tuttle, ed. by Madeleine Grynsztejn (San Francisco, CA: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2005), pp 7

[3] Arthur Lubow, ‘The Curse of the Whitney’, New York Times, April 11, 1999, accessed Dec 08,

[4] Madeleine Grynsztejn ‘A Universe of Small Truths’, in: The Art of Richard Tuttle, p. 30

[5] Grynsztejn, p.33

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