Richard Tuttle - Contemporary Art Part I New York Wednesday, May 11, 2011 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Collection of the artist; Private collection, Chicago; Private collection, Switzerland

  • Exhibited

    New York, Sperone Westwater, Cosmologies; Alighiero Boetti, Lucio Fontana, Richard Tuttle, and Not Vital, May 4 – August 30, 2000

  • Catalogue Essay

    “There’s a history to color—humans don’t see a color until it’s time to see it. There’s a primal relationship between us and color. For me it’s very exciting.”

    (Tuttle quoted in an interview on May 18, 2007, reproduced at

    Richard Tuttle’s Light Brown, Dark Brown from 1964 dates from the beginning of the artist’s prolific career, just before his first ever solo exhibition was staged at the Betty Parsons Gallery in 1965. At this early stage in his career, Tuttle’s work was mainly concerned with dual investigations of shapes and color, often using irregularly shaped canvases or wood panels and employing only a single color. The artist would frequently begin with standard and simple geometric shapes and then stretch or skew them in such a way so as to make them appear slightly more organic; however, in Light Brown, Dark Brown, Tuttle departs from this process slightly by creating two more “perfect” shapes – the upper canvas a nearly perfect rectangle and the lower canvas constructed with a slight slant on one side.

    This departure, and closer adherence to exact geometry, perhaps owes itself to what can be read as Tuttle’s real main interest – the investigation of color rather than shape. While many of his other pieces from the beginning of his career include names of shapes in their titles in addition to colors, here Tuttle drops the shape and focuses in on the colors alone – thereby reflecting his focus. Furthermore, Light Brown, Dark Brown is one of only a handful of Tuttle’s works that employs the use of more than one color. The effect of the juxtaposition of the two shades of honey brown, one just slightly darker than the other, allows the nuances of the hues to become the real focus of the work, while the overall geometric shape of the work takes on a supporting role. Thus, Tuttle invites the viewer to experience pure color at its most basic elements.


Light Brown, Dark Brown

Acrylic on canvas.
49 1/8 x 30 1/8 in. (124.8 x 76.5 cm.)
Signed, titled and dated “Light Brown Dark Brown 1964 R. Tuttle” on the stretcher.

$250,000 - 350,000 

Contemporary Art Part I

12 May 2011
New York