Richard Tuttle’s exhibition at the Phillips Collection.
Photo: Lee Stalsworth/Courtesy The Phillips Collection

Richard Tuttle Talks to Galerie About His Phillips Collection Show

The artist speaks with Galerie about the series he created for the annual Intersections program

In a new exhibition at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., American artist Richard Tuttle has created an elaborate installation of 41 works that combine his poetry, paintings, and sculptures.

Titled “It Seems Like It’s Going to Be,” the exhibition is part of the Phillips’s annual Intersections series, which invites contemporary artists to create work that engages the museum’s permanent collection and architecture, as well as explores the intersections of modern and contemporary art practices. The show is the first to be housed in the newly reopened historic Phillips House galleries following a yearlong renovation project.

Installation view of Tuttle’s exhibition at the Phillips Collection. Photo: Lee Stalsworth/Courtesy The Phillips Collection

“I made visits to the Phillips in my youth—the legendary draw of the place, a haven for all who shared a fine-hewn sensibility and love for adventure in the visual arts,” Tuttle tells Galerie. “Speaking to friends recently, we agreed the paint is alive at the Phillips. As a young artist, one dreamed of a show at the Phillips, just as one dreamed to be written about by Walter Benjamin. The collection seemed to have its finger on all that had lasting and deep value. So, when I was asked to prepare an exhibition, I viewed it as a clarion call for the best I could offer.”

Installation view of Tuttle’s exhibition at the Phillips Collection. Photo: Lee Stalsworth/Courtesy The Phillips Collection

The show is based on a 41-verse poem Tuttle wrote, with a work of art for each line. The works in Tuttle’s series are displayed in juxtaposition with the works on paper from the permanent collection by the likes of Henri Matisse and Auguste Rodin.

Installation view of Tuttle’s exhibition at the Phillips Collection. Photo: Lee Stalsworth/Courtesy The Phillips Collection

“We took a walk-through of the newly renovated second floor of the house, placing the 41 works, which were already created,” Tuttle says. “An unbelievable correspondence took place, where each work—of an unusually diverse exhibition—took its place in rooms varying from repurposed bedrooms to contemporary exhibition spaces.”

Tuttle’s work is always entrenched in minimalist aesthetics with elements of humor and playfulness, and the new exhibition is no different. When asked to describe it, he declares the show to be “delirious, funny, mad, and comical.”

Installation view of Tuttle’s exhibition at the Phillips Collection. Photo: Lee Stalsworth/Courtesy The Phillips Collection

“A painting can give you different kinds of space experiences,” he adds. “The Phillips show, where it may appear sculptural in how it moves through the spaces, is painterly in giving uniquely different spaces, it has attempted to unify and place above time.”

“It Seems Like It’s Going to Be” is on view through December 30 at the Phillips Collection, 1600 21st Street NW, Washington, D.C.

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