Exhibitions/ Richard Tuttle: The Critical Edge

Richard Tuttle: The Critical Edge

At The Met Fifth Avenue
April 2–July 17, 2016

Exhibition Overview

One of the most significant artists working today, Richard Tuttle first came to prominence in the heady years of the 1960s, when he gained critical recognition for a body of work that used humble, mundane materials such as textile, paper, wire, and rope—materials that have remained the cornerstone of his practice. This installation features a series of six new works made from fabric purchased in New York and Maine, along with 10 paintings. Together they elaborate Tuttle's interest in abstraction, texture, and materiality, as well as his long-standing use of cloth as a medium.

An astute collector of textiles, Tuttle builds his assemblages from layers of fabric that are cut and sewn by hand, sometimes with the aid of a sewing machine. From these fragments he fashions idiosyncratic shapes and eccentric compositions, many endowed with a clumsy yet evocative three-dimensionality. The works result from a kind of collaboration between the artist and the textiles he selects—the fabric, for instance, provides the objects with both their color and their form. In keeping with his playful insistence on refusing to be categorized, Tuttle uses elements of drawing, painting, weaving, and sculpture to create these hybrid objects. Accordingly, both embroidery and the cloth's overlapping edges function as drawn lines. The pliable pieces of draped fabric, similarly, are responsive to the surrounding environment: shifts in the air cause them to rise and fall in a manner suggestive of breathing. Because the pieces vary in their degree of opacity and transparency, they each catch and release light in different ways.

For these reasons, Tuttle's works are highly sensual objects that activate our sense of sight and touch. Furthermore, by alluding to philosophical inquiry, the objects' shared title, The Critical Edge, suggests that the works reach beyond art to become meditations on the nature of perception and understanding.


The exhibition is made possible by The Modern Circle.

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in

Richard Tuttle (American, born 1941). The Critical Edge I (detail), 2015. Fabric, wood, nails, hand-sewn brown thread, and graphite; four black MDF panels and four fabric elements. Courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery