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Louis Pruitt

Sculptor
Born March 7, 1935, Cullman, Alabama

“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 MFA 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. He found himself particularly fascinated by the soft undulations of breasts and navels, which led to a series of paintings juxtaposing convex and concave surfaces 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 create a hard exterior shell. In the 1990s, Pruitt revisited certain works he had sculpted in the previous decade and modified them in order to give them 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. Pruitt was also a featured artist during the 2010 Elephant’s Eye Bucks County Artist Studio Tour.

Image: Louis Pruitt, photo courtesy of the artist.


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