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“I started out as a painter, then began using shaped canvases, then turned to free-standing sculpture, which is what I have been working with for the past forty years.”
When Louis Pruitt graduated from Auburn University in the late 1950s, his intent was to begin a career as an illustrator in New York. However, Pruitt’s experience as a soldier in Europe exposed him to “the possibilities of what art could be” and convinced him to pursue an M.F.A. at Pratt Institute upon his return to the USA.
As a graduate student, Pruitt began to produce Picasso-inspired paintings representative of the human form. Specifically, he created a series of paintings juxtaposing convex and concave surfaces of the human body in pattern-like designs. In the mid-1960s, Pruitt became more interested in bas reliefs and began draping his canvases across wooden frames. These canvases were typically painted in planar shades of gray.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Pruitt produced his first free-standing sculptures, using wood, canvas, acrylic paint, and polyester resin. As his sculptural work evolved, shallow indentations and small raised surfaces gave way to deep recesses and dramatic protrusions. Although Pruitt initially limited himself to creating sculptures with strictly rectilinear contours, he gradually began to produce more anthropomorphic structures.
In the 1980s, Pruitt continued to stretch cloth across wooden frames but began to experiment with fabrics of greater elasticity than canvas. He also developed a technique for applying a glue-sawdust mixture to the fabric in order to make a hard exterior shell. In the 1990s, Pruitt revisited certain works he had sculpted in the previous decade and modified them in order to create a greater openness of form. Most of the works Pruitt has since produced have followed this same trajectory of openness.
Pruitt has exhibited at venues in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, including three exhibitions at the Trenton City Museum and the Bronxville Art Center in New York. One of his sculptures is in the permanent collection of the Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey. Pruitt was also a featured artist during the 2010 Elephant’s Eye Bucks County Artist Studio Tour.
Louis Pruitt. Image courtesy of the artist.
Education and Training
B.A., Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, 1957
M.F.A., Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York, 1960
Connection to Bucks County
In 1995, Pruitt and his wife moved from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to rural Bucks County. They bought a house and dairy barn in Ottsville, where Pruitt has lived and worked ever since.
Colleagues and Affiliations
Some of Pruitt’s colleagues include Richard Lennox, Vladmir Salamun, Lisa Naples, Kevin Forrest, John McDevitt, and Jonathan Hertzel.
Bucks County Art: In Living Color, 24th Annual Byers Bucks Fever Art Exhibition, Keenan Motors Mercedes-Benz, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 2010
Featured Artist, Elephant’s Eye Bucks County Artist Studio Tour, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, 2010
9th Annual Buckingham Valley Winery Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit, Buckingham, Pennsylvania, 2010
4th, 8th, and 9th Annual Indoor Juried Sculpture Show, New Hope Arts Center, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 2005, 2009-2010
Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, Pennsylvania, 2009
Stover Mill Gallery, Erwinna, Pennsylvania, 2009
16th Annual Artsbridge Juried Exhibition, Riverrun Gallery & Framing, Lambertville, New Jersey, 2009
Gallery 31, Lambertville, New Jersey, 2009
Trenton City Museum, Ellarslie Mansion, Trenton, New Jersey, 2006-2007, 2009
Bucks County Sculpture Show, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 2003, 2005, 2007-2008
Abington Art Center, Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, 2006
Gallery 51N, Glen Gardner, New Jersey, 2003, 2005
Hunterdon County Museum of Art, Clinton, New Jersey, 2002-2003
Gertrude Stein Gallery, Manhattan, New York, 2002
Bronxville Art Center, Bronxville, New York, 2002
Ten Downtown, SoHo, Manhattan, New York, 1968
Sachs Gallery, Manhattan, New York
MoMA P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, New York
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut
Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey
Prize for Sculpture, Artsbridge Juried Exhibition, Lambertville, New Jersey, 2009
Emily and Joe Lowe Award, 1960