"It is rare that so young an artist as Richard Tuttle should have found how to address us in his own voice, without an accent. His art belongs to no-one but himself, and like himself, it is of the twentieth century. These are already staggering achievements" - Introduction by G. B. Washburn to Tuttle's first solo show at the Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, 1965. (G. B. Washburn, "'Richard Tuttle: Constructed Paintings'," quoted B. O'Brien (ed.), Richard Tuttle, Amsterdam, 1991, p. 86).
Hugging the surface of the wall, Richard Tuttle's Green Triptych is part painting, part sculpture. Occupying this transitional space between the two artistic genres frees the work from the artistic constraints of either medium, and the resulting trio of delicate shapes is as much about the physicality of the line and void as about the physicality of the shapes. These forms converse with the viewer in a subtle language all their own even as they separate themselves from the conventional vocabulary of artistic expression. The intimate and intensely personal dialogue that results encapsulates Tuttle's unique view of the world: "nature admires the simple-minded. Nature's admiration is exactly the opposite of human admiration. Some of the works of art that are necessary to me are those that praise my simplicity....Simplicity and complexity are virtually the same thing" (R. Tuttle in conversation, 1975).
1965, the year Tuttle conceived Green Triptych, was a breakthrough year for the artist, as he was finally rewarded with his first solo exhibition at the Betty Parsons Gallery in New York. Parsons had long been a champion of Tuttle's subtle and refined lexicon and had persuaded him to do a show in which he produced a series of wooden reliefs with sensitive and idiosyncratic contours and colors. In his introduction to this first solo show, the renowned curator G. B. Washburn identified this new artistic language as the defining characteristic of Tuttle's work: "Their shapes, and particularly their edges, follow the trembling sensibility, the delicacy of thought, the half-hidden feelings of their maker. They are constructions of the heart. These shapes are with inward meanings, each one the map not of a place, but of an experience. Perhaps we may say that they are Richard Tuttle's islands, the whole exhibition representing his own nature's archipelago. But it is by their contours that he is most eloquent, the subtlety of their modulations giving them the air of faintly breathing, making them seem to expand and contract like tender living things" (G.B. Washburn, "Richard Tuttle: Constructed Paintings," quoted by B. O'Brien (ed.), Richard Tuttle, Amsterdam, 1991, p. 86).
Richard Tuttle's reputation as one of the leading post-minimalist artists rests on his persistently unconstrained art practice that uses improvisational working procedures and non-traditional materials. Yet unlike his minimalist predecessors who based their practice on reductive and impersonal creations, the multiplicity of concepts in Tuttle's work is made all the more successful because of his intensely personal reaction to the materials and how they work in conjunction with each other.