Today’s pick is the Richard Tuttle Untitled from Letters (Lot 218). This work is from the artist’s landmark series of alphabet letters. Each of the letters in the series was abstracted and many of the forms did not resemble actual letters, but this one appears to resemble a “b”. Richard didn’t know what letter it resembled, he just thought it looked like a heart, which is why he bought it. The lot comes with a postcard invitation addressed to Richard Dorso to view the show at the Betty Parsons Gallery. The piece has a reasonable estimate, there is no reserve, it is in excellent condition, it has complete provenance, and this is the first time it has been on the market since new – what more could you want?
The following is a conversation between Peter Loughrey (PL), Richard Dorso (RD), and Bianca Dorso (BD), which took place earlier this year at Mr. Dorso’s apartment:
PL: Can you tell me where the Richard Tuttle came from?
RD: The Parsons Gallery. In New York.
BD: Betty Parsons.
PL: Betty Parsons. And was that the show with all of the different letters?
RD: All of them.
PL: So, you could just pick one or you could buy all of them?
RD: I don’t think anyone would buy all of them. But you could, if you wanted to. But most of us were buying individual pieces.
PL: What attracted you to this one?
RD: It was a heart. And I liked hearts.
PL: I really like the case that it’s in. And the light on top.
RD: I did that.
PL: I think it shows it off really beautifully.
RD: Yeah. What do you think that’s worth today?
PL: I’d put an estimate of 15,000 to 20,000. But I think it would go for more.
RD: I love the piece.
PL: It’s pretty great. I think it could be one of the top ten pieces (in the sale) and I’d like to do research and write a special entry for that piece, so it’s nice to know that you bought it from that gallery show.
RD: Oh yes. Betty Parsons was one of the hot dealers in New York with new people and she was very enthusiastic.
PL: Can you recall the show itself, like anything about the show opening or who you went with?
RD: What I used to do was duck out at noon and run through the gallery. And I got to the Parsons Gallery and I had never seen that kind of work before so it stopped me cold, so I immediately bought the heart. I thought of buying a second one because whenever I liked anything, I always bought a second picture. But for some reason, I was running out of time so I bought that.
PL: Do you remember how much it was at the time?
RD: You sure you want to hear?
PL: I’d love to know.
RD: 50 dollars.
PL: Wow, that’s great. Do you remember anyone else who bought them at the time? Did you have friends who also bought them?
PL: Because that show was a very popular show. All those pieces sold out and they show up occasionally on the marketplace. It’s kind of a legendary show for him.
RD: Oh really?
PL: Oh yeah.
RD: Well, it was a spectacular show because it was a pretty good size gallery, I think it was on 57th, and he had pieces—just packed on the wall.
PL: How was this piece hung? Was it hung on the wall or was it on—
RD: On the wall.
PL: On the wall. And did they just have it resting on pins?
PL: I like it better in a box.
RD: Yeah, so do I. Makes it more important.
Untitled from Letters (The Twenty-Six Series)
Sold with postcard from Betty Parsons Gallery
Object: 8.25” x 10.5” x 0.5” Plexibox: 9.5” x 12.75” x 5.25”
Literature: THE ART OF RICHARD TUTTLE,2005, THE SAN FRANCISCO MUSUEM OF ART, #57
Provenance: BETTY PARSONS GALLERY