Richard Tuttle

Drift III

Not on view



Painted wood

Overall: 26 3/16 × 53 1/8 × 1 1/4in. (66.5 × 134.9 × 3.2 cm)

Accession number

Credit line
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from Mr. and Mrs. William A. Marsteller and the Painting and Sculpture Committee

Rights and reproductions
© artist or artist’s estate


From 1964 to 1965, Richard Tuttle created approximately 130 small-scale, irregularly shaped objects made of plywood and painted in an often buoyantly pastel palette. The distinctly poetic and personal works, with titles like Fountain, Fire, and Hill, were installed in a gallery in 1965, covering both the floors and the walls. Drift III, the third in a series of six, is one of these works. It transgresses the usual boundaries between sculpture and painting: although it is suspended on the wall like a painting, it hangs askew, and its two-part wooden structure creates unusual negative spaces, engaging the surrounding area in the manner of a sculpture. Tuttle drew the irregular shape on paper, made a paper template, and then carefully cut the form from wood. Drift III thus possesses the idiosyncratic contours of his drawing. Tuttle has explained that the Drift series reminds him of the cloud formations he observed while briefly serving in the United States Air Force. The title evokes not the clouds themselves but their wandering movements as they respond to natural forces.