Anne Truitt was born Anne Dean in Baltimore, Maryland. She spent her childhood in Easton on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Truitt graduated cum laude with a B.A. degree in psychology from Bryn Mawr College in 1943. She worked as a Red Cross Nurse’s Aide at Massachusetts General Hospital until the end of World War II, serving in the wards at night after working as a research assistant in the hospital’s psychiatric laboratory during the day. Truitt wrote poems and short stories during this time; these exercises, as well as other writings and correspondence, form part of her Bryn Mawr College archive.
Truitt married James McConnell Truitt in 1947 and moved from Boston to Washington D.C. where he worked in the State Department. She continued to write and in the 1950s translated from French to English a book written by Germaine Bree, Professor, Bryn Mawr College: Du Temps Perdu Au Temps Retrouvé, Marcel Proust and Deliverance from Time, Rutgers University Press, 1956. In 1948 James Truitt left the State Department and began a career in journalism; subsequently the Truitts moved around the United States, and lived in Japan from 1964-1967.
Truitt studied sculpture for one academic year at the Institute of Contemporary Art, 1949, in Washington, D.C., followed by three months at the Dallas Museum of Fine Art. Following this formal training, she worked in clay, cast in cement and plaster, experimenting with various techniques, including steel welding. In 1961 Truitt began to work in the style for which she later became known: she paints multiple delicate layers of color characterized by subtle variations on wooden constructions which she has fabricated in accordance with scale drawings; the structural elements of these sculptures constitute armatures supporting color. Writing in April, 1965, Truitt stated: “What is important to me in not geometrical shape per se, or color per se, but to make a relationship between shape and color which feels to me like my experience. To make what feels to me like reality.” (Private papers.)
Truitt’s work is in many major museums in the United States, among them The National Gallery of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The Museum of American Art, as well as in collections elsewhere, notably the Panza Collection in Italy. Truitt has been the subject of three major museum retrospective exhibitions: at the Whitney Museum of American Art, 1974; at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, 1975; at the Baltimore Museum of Art, 1992.
In addition to her work as an artist, Truitt has written three books: Daybook (Pantheon 1982), Turn (Viking 1986) and Prospect (Scribner 1996). Her contributions to both scholarship and art have been recognized with many honors, including five honorary doctorates. She was awarded the Cather Medal in 2003.