Richard Tuttle / Roma and Other Works

Between Art & Life by Susan Harris
Interview: Rebecca Lord

4 / 9 December 2012

Between Art & Life
Susan Harris
New York, November 2012

The capacity to mystify, illuminate and inspire lies at the heart of Richard Tuttle’s art. Tuttle’s relentless quest for truth and knowledge, his enthusiasm for discovery, his drive to explore what he has not previously known or experienced and his mindfulness of the interaction between his own inner states, the energy of a work, and the energy that surrounds it, allows each work to find its ultimate form as an autonomous object in the world. Tuttle’s transformation of mundane materials into art celebrates the joys of seeing and fosters an awareness of the connections between art and life.

"Z 3" is a wall relief from 1981 that features a series of eight rolled newspaper pages each painted a vibrant hue of green, blue, red or yellow and affixed to a cardboard backing. Jutting out beyond the cardboard and wood support, yet tethered to it by two nails, the colored relief invokes Picasso’s synthetic Cubist constructions even as it seems to fly away from the picture/wall plane. Moving to the side reveals a half-moon shaped piece of wood below the relief with a swath of thick black paint that is pierced by the line of a nail connecting all of the constituent parts. A tour de force of material and spatial complexity, one witnesses, at once, the breaking apart and conflation of painting, sculpture and drawing and, no less, a sense of time and space. 

The radicality of Tuttle’s achievement began in the 1960s when, during the upheaval that saw a widespread challenge to the status quo, he embarked on a sustained inquiry into the nature of art. His unframed drawings of the 60s and 70s erased the divide between an artwork and its surrounding space as they hung directly on the wall according to specific stipulations of height and centering. The instructions on the back of "Untitled", 1975, for example, read “52 ½ in center/center of wall and center of drawing are matching at 52 ½ in from the floor,” thus tying the drawing to the installation and the space itself. Charged with a quiet insistence and an almost mystical sense of poetic understatement, the three staggered and wobbly lines of primary color bounded by pen in a large field of white space is part of his ongoing investigation into how line might embrace color. 

In the early 80s, Tuttle did numerous series of delicate watercolors on ordinary paper in rough-hewn, patched-together wood frames. Shadows cast by the hand-made frames and the buckling of the paper lend the drawings an object-like quality that locates the two-dimensionality of drawing in real space. These, as all of the works throughout his non-linear oeuvre defy classification as painting, drawing or sculpture as the artist successfully erases distinctions between a work, the space, the viewer and the process of looking.

Interview: Rebecca Lord
James D. Barron
Rome, February 2012

James Barron: How many years were you in the adult film world?

Rebecca Lord: I started in 1993, and worked twelve years over all.

JB: Can you tell me about the dogs in the photo?

RL: The four dogs were mine: Tartine the mother, Beavis the dad and Leon and Lolita the two kids. The last of the four died three years ago. I never brought my dogs on set. This film was shot at my house, this why they where around. It was also my production. 

JB: Were the actors comfortable having Larry Sultan on set?

RL: Larry was the most discreet photographer I ever met. You easily could forget he was there and even taking pictures. He sent me a couple of pictures by mail. One is a fantastic picture of Tartine, the mother, alone, late at night while everyone was packing. She is in the middle of the set (with lights, equipment, etc.) and she looks kind of lost and lonely.

JB: Do you remember what you were thinking at the time the photo was taken?   

RL: Absolutely not. I just remember not having seen him take this picture. This shot was fast and so perfect.

JB: Between takes, did you stay in character as Rebecca Lord or return to being Caroline, your private life name?  Who do we see in this photo?

RL: It might be a little bit of both. I was acting in that movie, yes. Rebecca Lord is the person in front of cameras. At home and in my private life, I am 100% myself: Caroline. 

JB: Were your various stage names a type of alter ego or a different self?

RL: A name is just a name. In this profession, I am (was) a product, nothing more.

JB: Do you feel Larry captured the essence of how it felt to be on a pornographic film set?

RL: I think Larry captured intimacies in a world where everything is superficial -- especially in the movie industry in L.A.

JB: Do you look back at your career with pride or nostalgia?

RL: Neither. I am not nostalgic since I chose to stop. It was just time for me to try something else. As for pride, I’m not proud of what I did, but not ashamed either. Shame comes from the look of others, the way they judge you -- and I stopped caring for them a long time ago!