What a treasure trove is Robert Ayers’ blog, A Sky filled with Shooting Stars. Earlier this week I posted a few extracts from Ayers’ recent interview with Larry Poons. Digging a bit deeper into Ayers’ archives, I have found fascinating interviews with several other significant artists. It is now clear to me that Ayers has a gift at pulling information out of artists that others just don’t know how to access.
Case in point is Ayers’ interview with Richard Tuttle. Conducted concomitant with Tuttle’s show, “Memory Comes from Dark Extension” at Sperone Westwater in 2007, the discussion touches on the exquisitely understated but dauntingly powerful pieces that embodied the sepulchral whiteness of SW. It was a show that knocked me out (and one that I wrote about here.) That exhibit was more intimate and personal than the brilliantly arms flung wide retrospective of Tuttle’s work that traveled the country in 2005/2006, and an extraordinary flowering of giftedness as a follow on to his controversial but now legendary first retrospective at the Whitney in 1975 which garnered this unforgettable condemnation from Hilton Kramer: “In Mr. Tuttle’s work, less is unmistakably less. It is, indeed, remorselessly and irredeemably less. It establishes new standards of lessness.”
Ever since that Whitney show in 1975, Tuttle has been on my *IGLEYD* artist list. So it is even more extraordinary to find how deftly Ayers can pull such rich material out of Tuttle.
Here are a few excerpts from the interview:
Ayers: Richard, this is a beautiful show. But your work is not concerned with beauty, is it?
Tuttle: Eastern philosophers talk about the illusion of the world. I feel very sympathetic to that, because you know in an instant if a person is involved with appearances or reality. There’s a whole huge structure out there that gives high marks for appearances. Then there are the people who are involved with what’s real. By far the vast majority of people’s lives are involved with appearances—even most art is just appearances. People are literally swept away by appearances.
Ayers: But you believe that you’re working with reality rather than appearance?
Tuttle: In our culture there is a job for art, because we can’t experience reality anywhere else. And the experience of reality is absolutely fundamental to human existence. My job is to give the best possible visual experience. I try to raise the bar on the visual experience so that people can enjoy their lives. I get to thinking a lot about motivation—the purest motivation should result in the best visual experience. This is the first show where I think I’ve really connected with this motivation. It takes a lifetime to achieve one’s work. Art is not an overnight career. You can’t face your own desperation until after a long time.
Ayers: How did you go about making this show?
Tuttle: A show is so mysterious. You can make a show with two pieces, or you can make a show with a thousand pieces. But this much I know—there has to be unity…In this show I reached a point where I saw very clearly that there’s breadth and there’s depth—those are the polarities that can be expanded in an artwork. For myself as a maker, I have to choose. Do I go broad or do I go deep?
You can read the entire interview here.
*IGLEYD: “I’m gonna love everything you do.” (pretty much)