Logan Lecture Visiting Artist (Jenna Speare)

Jenna Speare

Logan Lecture Paper

ARTH 3539

Logan Lecture Series

Richard Tuttle

           Richard Tuttle a sculpture artist represented by Pace Gallery. He has always loved sculpture but claims to dislike the material world; it is his dream to create something spiritual, yet in the world of sculpture, he is forced to deal with art as materiality. The art world has not achieved abstraction in sculpture that is as interesting as “the figure”. It is also his belief that art is meant to be more accessible to other people for the use that art is meant to have.

Each of Richard Tuttle’s Sculptures is set up with an 8-point base. What appears as a base, that is separate from the piece, is actually an intentional addition to the piece that forces the viewer into different points of view. The eight points on the base are the places where the viewer can view the piece from afar, and the places in between each of the points are where the viewers can really step in to view the piece up close. This eight-point base is the same on many of his pieces, such as this one, System 1, Cheap Face 2010.


When presenting images of his work, Richard Tuttle emphasized how sculpture is a “service job”. There is a huge difference between looking at one of his pieces and actually seeing it, which can be said for many other pieces of art. Each piece of his has something inside it that “moves”, but he finishes his statement by saying not everything can be seen. Tuttle’s pieces are colorful, new, and bizarre, and it is difficult to decipher what each piece is trying to say.

Art should be made to communicate something to other people. It doesn’t have to be big or political, it just has to say something. Part of that communication is the structure that surrounds his pieces. In his work, System 3, Measurement, 2011, the frames constructed are built as a “psychological ground” that helps heighten the reality of the work. This piece brings us back to the intention behind each of the bases he creates. He states that the floor of the gallery combined with the floor of the structure cancels out our expectations of the gallery space, and again, heightens the reality of the piece.


The majority of this lecture was focused on the framing and base of each sculpture. The actual piece of art seemed irrelevant. He claims that an artist must “comb through all available subject matter and pick something”, yet his pieces seemed to be created randomly and without intention. The only aspect of his work that had any significance was its raw frame. I expected to attend this lecture and learn about his process as an artist and what influenced his ideas for sculpture. While we learned a lot about how he set up his pieces in each gallery space, he didn’t say much about the individual works of arts, in fact, it seemed like it was difficult for him to talk about his own work and would often skip through slides of his work rather quickly.

I feel as though an artist should have clearly defined intent, they should have an idea they want to portray to the world, even if it is represented in an abstract manner. Throughout the course of the lecture he avoided answering questions that directly addressed the more colorful and intricate parts of his sculptures, we kept recycling back to the ideas behind the overall framing, set-up, and 8-point base system.

Overall I found Tuttle’s pieces to be astonishing and inviting, it was afterwards, when I felt that Tuttle could not defend his work as an artist that I began to question the deeper meaning that each piece held. I had come up with my own ideas for what these pieces represented, but I could not get those ideas reaffirmed or corrected by the artist himself. I am not questioning Richard Tuttle as an artist, however I was disappointed by this lecture and had hoped to learn more about his work than when I had arrived. Nonetheless I feel there is more to explore about his work and I hope to do so.

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