Anne Truitt, 83; Sculptor Chronicled Life as Artist, Wife, Mother

From a Times Staff Writer

Anne Dean Truitt, a sculptor who reflected on her life as an artist, wife and mother in three gracefully written published journals, has died. She was 83.

Truitt died Dec. 23 at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C., of complications following abdominal surgery.

Arguably a Minimalist, Truitt was among the first artists to have the term applied to three-dimensional work.

But because her austere squared wooden columns were carefully built and hand-painted, rather than industrially manufactured in the Minimalist manner, many described her work as non-Minimalist and more three-dimensional painting than sculpture.

However defined, her art appealed. Los Angeles Times reviewer David Pagel termed Truitt’s first solo show in Los Angeles, staged in 2000, “wonderful” and noted that Truitt “is one of those rare artists whose work deserves a wider reputation than it has.”


The show at Grant-Selwyn Fine Art in Beverly Hills included 13 sculptures and eight drawings Truitt made between 1962 and 1999. Pagel noted in his review: “Her brand of idiosyncratic Minimalism, built around off-centered forms, sumptuous colors and compositions that are astutely out of sync with their underlying structures, looks right at home in Los Angeles, where artists who march to the beat of their own drummers do not face the same difficulties that they find in conservative art centers like New York.”

Yet Truitt succeeded in those centers as well, with her works included in the permanent collections of New York’s Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum of American Art and of Washington’s National Museum of American Art and National Gallery of Art.

A native of Baltimore, Truitt studied psychology at Bryn Mawr and worked briefly in a Boston hospital. But she turned to art after her marriage to journalist James Truitt, studying sculpture at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Washington, D.C.

Struggling with the emotional ups and downs of balancing her studio and home life, particularly after her 1971 divorce, she began keeping a journal.

The journals were later published in three volumes: “Daybook: The Journal of an Artist” in 1982; “Turn: The Journal of an Artist” in 1986; and “Prospect: The Journal of an Artist” in 1996.

Truitt, who taught art for many years at the University of Maryland, is survived by three children and eight grandchildren.