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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

What Can You Do with All That Sublimation?

Richard Tuttle, Drift III,1965I'm supposed to be giving gallery talks on the Richard Tuttle exhibition at the Whitney, but I've been on the road so much lately that I haven't even seen the show yet. (I figured out yesterday that excluding time spent at airports and in cabs, I've had a grand total of 24 hours and 45 minutes in New York over the last two and a half weeks.)

I have, though, been doing some reading on Tuttle in preparation for the show. One of the things that has struck me is Tuttle's continual emphasis on not asserting meaning through his work. Here's a quote from Tuttle that appears in the catalogue for season 3 of Art:21:
There's a division left over from the twentieth century where certain people might think that art is something that is made outside of any personal expression (Josef Albers or the Bauhaus), that it's really coolly detached. And then there's the other side, where art is full of personal expression. I guess the personal expression side is great, but then you can get an art which is just an expression of some twisted personal idiosyncrasy. In order to get over those polarities between no personal expression and personal expression, the only possible expression is one of some sort of sublimation.
I'm curious to see how that sublimation takes shape in the work selected for the show and in the gallery installations. And I'm really curious about how the heck I'm going to put together a coherent talk about work that is so purposely indirect.

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