Artist Anne Truitt spent part of her artistic career at Yaddo in Saratoga


In 1984, sculptor Anne Truitt closed her studio, loaded up her car, and drove north from her Washington, DC, home at Yaddo in Saratoga Springs. Truitt knew the terrain well. She first visited in 1974 (a recommendation from painter Helen Frankenthaler, no less) and would become a frequent presence at Yaddo throughout her life, sculpting and painting, while working on her journals.

But this trip was different. She replaced the executive director and led Yaddo from April to the end of the year. Yaddo and the resident artists were in good hands. Truitt understood the complexity of an artistic life, rigorously examining its demands in his published journals, required reading for anyone in the arts. As a divorced mother of three, she also understood the solitude and comfort that a residence could provide.

“Yaddo is one of the energy centers of the planet, I always feel it when I enter the park, between the granite pillars that guard the narrow road that winds between two lakes and climbs a hill towards the mansion “, she wrote later.

“Yes, Truitt loved her time at Yaddo, as she could work uninterrupted for weeks on end, she continued to do the work she had already undertaken in her studio during her visits to Yaddo,” her daughter said, Alexandra Truitt.

Parts of the first journal, “Daybook”, published in 1982, were written at Yaddo, after demanding retrospectives of his work. She swore to write in bed every morning for a year. “The only limit I set for myself was to let the artist speak. My hope was that if I did it honestly, I would figure out how to see myself from a perspective that would make me whole in my own eyes.

Luckily for us, she never stopped writing. After “Daybook” came “Turn” and then “Prospect”. And now, nearly two decades after her death, Alexandra Truitt has released the fourth and final installment: “Yield.” Her daughter, who lives in Westchester County, wrote in the preface that while researching her mother’s unpublished texts to prepare a volume of selected writings, she noticed that several notebooks resembled the three diaries. His mother checked that in the notebooks, saying “yield” should be the title if it was published.

“In ‘Yield’, with the same unwavering honesty characteristic of the other volumes, Truitt articulates and accepts the intellectual, practical, emotional, moral and spiritual issues an artist faces when reconciling his art with his life, even as life is coming to an end,” Alexandra writes in the preface.

For many artists and writers, “Daybook” is a model of life, as are the following journals.

Writer Rachel Kushner in the foreword to “Yield” said “I wanted to know, at my age – right now 52 – how to live, tapping into the wisdom and determinations of a woman at four- twenty years.”

I read “Daybook” many years ago and re-read it a few weeks ago at the age of 56 (Truitt was in her 50s when she wrote this specific diary). When I heard about “Yield,” written in his 80s, I ordered a copy for my birthday. I then searched for the second and third out of print journals and read some every morning.

I imagined her writing these passages in bed at home, in Yaddo, while traveling. The diaries depict the orderly life she led, her discipline, and the vastness of her intellectual curiosity. Greek literature, explorers, other artists, writers, philosophers all seemed to support it. Writing in his diaries also seemed to support his life as an artist.

“Truitt was a voracious reader and correspondent, her intellectual life was rich and formed from habits she adopted early in her life,” Alexandra said.

She also struggled with aging, anticipating and accepting limitations, but continued to work until her death in 2004. “Old age is a drastic situation,” she wrote in “Yield.”

Truitt describes the joy of being a mother and grandmother, but also doesn’t gloss over how difficult it is for a woman to try to survive as an artist and the discipline required.

“I think the balance and discipline she describes isn’t just limited to artists,” Alexandra said.

“Performance” is not Anne Truitt’s last word, fortunately.

In April, Yale University Press, publishers of “Yield,” will publish the massive 416-page volume, “Always Reaching: Selected Writings of Anne Truitt,” which will be edited by her daughter.

In the meantime, I will make a few excursions across the country to visit his works. Details can be found at you can find out more about Truitt at


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