Sol Lewitt - Artist, photo credits

Sol LeWitt /   Solomon Sol LeWitt

United States 1928 - 2007

Minimal Art, Conceptual Art

Sol LeWitt
Solomon Sol LeWitt
United States
October 14, 2014

Being one of the main figures in the creation of the new aesthetic of the 60’s that was in a contrary to the Abstract Expressionism, Sol LeWitt defined conceptual art with his statement that the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. He helped establish Conceptual art and Minimalism of the postwar era. Believing that the idea itself could be the work of art and displace the artist into the position of a generator of that idea, LeWitt considered creation as an intellectual and pragmatic act. Conceiving of a work is the only artist’s obligation, then he can either delegate the production to others or can choose to even never make it at all. His work ranged from wall drawings, structures (a term he preferred instead of sculptures), painting and conceptual pieces that remained the elements of the artistic process.

Sol LeWitt - Color Bands, 2000, photo credits work artist artists form museum paper modern
Sol LeWitt – Color Bands, 2000, photo credits

Early Influences and Creation of a New Aesthetic

Sol LeWitt was born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1928. After he finished his studies at the Syracuse University, in 1951 was drafted in the Korean War. During his service, he was making posters and spending some time in Japan, he started buying artworks, making his own collection. Settling in the New York in 1953 and finishing Cartoonist and Illustrators School, his first job was for Seventeen Magazine. Later on, LeWitt was hired in one architecture office as a graphic designer and of the crucial importance for his career was the engagement at the Museum of Modern Art where he was introduced to the work of Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella and Jasper Johns. He was also influenced by postulates of the Russian Constructivism which was propagated industrial aesthetic and utilitarian art. A book, with Eadweard Muybridge’s serial photography, sequential studies of people and animals in motion, which somebody had left in his apartment will later on turn out to be the biggest influence on his work. His works on canvas coated with thick layers of oil paint and also three-dimensional pieces constructed in the second half of the 60’s as Serial Project, or numerous sculptures made of open white cubes, were directly inspired by Muybridge’s serial.

He was influenced by work of Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella and Jasper Johns

Sol LeWitt - Wall Drawing #8791, photo credits work artist artists form works museum paper modern
Sol LeWitt – Wall Drawing #8791, photo credits

Sol Lewitt’s Wall Drawings

His first drawing, Wall Drawing #1, had been revealed in 1968 at Paula Cooper Gallery in New York. It has consisted of a system of parallel lines in four directions, drawn with the black pencil on a white wall, like numerous after this one. Considering two-dimensional works only as a manifestation of an idea, and not as objects, his drawings had a limited duration and all of them were ultimately painted over. The existence of the wall drawings was determined as a set of instructions that could be installed repeatedly. After the first one which he did by himself, LeWitt soon made a team of assistants that worked under his plans. On that way, the idea of his work surpassed the work itself.

In the next two years, he created four Drawing series, presenting various combinations of the basic geometrical elements. Applying a different system of change to each of twenty-four possible combinations of a divided square with one of the four types of lines he used (horizontal, vertical, diagonal left and right), the first series was called Rotation, the second Mirror, the third Cross and Reverse Mirror and the fourth was Cross Reverse. In his late work, in 2005, LeWitt started a series of scribble wall drawings which required filling the areas by scribbling with the graphite. During his career, he created more than 1270 wall drawings, but most of them are executed by his assistances. Their existence is limited by the duration of the exhibition. Having the meaning of ephemeral form, these artworks can be installed, removed and reinstalled as many times as need.

LeWitt made a team of assistants that worked under his plans

Sol LeWitt - 13/11, 1985, photo credits works
Sol LeWitt – 13/11, 1985, photo credits

Soll LeWitt’s Sculpture

Putting the cube in the focus of his exploration, in early 60’s, Sol LeWitt began to create his three-dimensional works, calling them the structures. The simplified forms of the open cube, made of wood and lacquered by hand, became a basic building block for the sculptures. From 1969, he constructed in industrial materials, as aluminum and steel, and later, during the 80’s he was using cinder and concrete blocks. His work culminated in 9 Towers, 2007, installed in Lilla Stenshuvud in Sweden which represents a cube made from more than 1000 colored bricks five meters high on each side.

During the 80’s he was using cinder and concrete blocks

Sol LeWitt - Cinderblock, photo credits work artist artists form museum paper modern
Sol LeWitt – Cinderblock, photo credits

The Art without the Artwork

Exploring ideas rather than conventional aesthetics, Sol LeWitt redefined the art production, reduce it to its essentials. Using the system of lines and the cube as a basic element, his work is characterized by serialization, repetition and progression. Sol LeWitt died in 2007 in New York City. Since 1964, his work has been exhibited in numerous solo and group shows and could be found in the most important museum collections around the world, including MoMA, New York, Tate Modern, London, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. He earned a place in the history of art as a leading person of his time. His directions for producing work of art simplified the comprehension of the work itself. It was no longer required to have a physical presence in order to be considered art.

Featured image: Sol LeWitt in his studio, photo credits
All images used for illustrative purpose only

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group 
2014Your mind is exactly at that lineArt Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, NSWSolo
2014Horizontal ProgressionsThe Pace Gallery - 508 W 25th Street, New York City, NYSolo
2014Under PressureBellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue, WAGroup
2014Apparent FormsThe Barbara Krakow Gallery, Boston, MAGroup
2014Love StoryThe Anne & Wolfgang Titze Collection - Belvedere, ViennaGroup
20144 X 4Stephen Friedman Gallery, LondonGroup
2014MultiplicityVirginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Virginia Beach, VAGroup
2014Mind & MatterFonds M-ARCO Le Box, MarseilleGroup
2014Do it MoscowGarage Center for Contemporary Culture - GCCC, MoscowGroup
2014Resonance(s)Maison Particulière Art Center, BrusselsGroup
2014Hired HandThe Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, ILGroup
2014Double Negative: From Painting To ObjectMuseo Tamayo, Mexico CityGroup
2014Postscript: Writing after Conceptual ArtEli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, East LansingGroup
2014Logical GuessesDriscoll Babcock Galleries, New York City, NYGroup
2014Post-Op - Perceptual Gone Painterly 1958-2014Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin - Paris, ParisGroup
2014Pliage/foldGagosian Gallery, ParisGroup
2014Abstract DrawingThe Drawing Room, LondonGroup
2014Everybody is NobodyFundación Banco Santander, Boadilla del MonteGroup
2013The Music CollectionThe Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CTSolo
2013Wall drawingsBFAS Blondeau Fine Art Services, GenevaSolo
2013Concrete Block StructureRhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago, ILSolo
2013Cut Torn Folded RippedJames Cohan Gallery - New York, New York City, NYSolo
2013Math + ArtWinnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, ManitobaGroup
2013Holiday Pop-up ShopPaula Cooper Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2013Wall Works - Hamburger BahnhofMuseum für Gegenwart, BerlinGroup
2013Ambach & Rice PresentsDaniel Weinberg Gallery, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2013My Brain Is in My Inkstand: Drawing as Thinking and ProcessCranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, MIGroup
2013Artists using PhotographyGesso Artspace, ViennaGroup
2013Serial Attitudes - Repetition as an artistic method since the 1960sHamburger Kunsthalle, HamburgGroup
2013The Skin of PaintingAnnemarie Verna Gallery, ZurichGroup
2013Activate NYAbrons Art Center, New York City, NYGroup
2013One Million Years - System and SymptomMuseum für Gegenwartskunst - Emanuel Hoffmann-Stiftung, BaselGroup
2013Upside Down: Specific ObjectsCultuurcentrum Strombeek, GrimbergenGroup
2013B.A.B.E - The Best Artists Books and EditorsImmanence, espace d'art contemporain, ParisGroup
2013Things In CommonArt Stations Foundation, PoznanGroup
2013Xerograhy firstsiteThe minories art gallery, ColchesterGroup
2013Art as an ArgumentKunstmuseum Bayreuth, BayreuthGroup
2013Adventures of truthPainting and philosophy - Fondation Maeght, Saint-PaulGroup
2013In DeedContemporary Art Centre (CAC), VilniusGroup
2013When Attitudes Become Form: Bern 1969 / Venezia 2013Fondazione Prada, VeniceGroup
2013Art=Text=Art - Private Languages / Public SystemsHafnarborg, HafnarfjörðurGroup
2013Moving - Norman Foster On ArtCarré d´art - Musée d´art contemporain de Nîmes, NîmesGroup
2013StripedMitterrand+cramer / art advisory, GenevaGroup
2013AgainLannan Foundation, Santa Fe, NMGroup
2013NonobjectiveGarvey Rita Art & Antiques, West Hartford, CTGroup
2013Something Turned Into A ThingMagasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall, StockholmGroup
2013Less is More: The Minimal PrintSmith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MAGroup
2013A Stone Left UnturnedYvon Lambert - Paris, ParisGroup
2013VibrationsDes Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IAGroup
2013In Deed: Certificates of Authenticity in ArtWeatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NCGroup
2013Objects of my affektionGalerie M + R Fricke - Berlin, BerlinGroup
2012Editions and StructuresCarl Solway Gallery, Cincinnati, OHSolo
2012Sol LeWitt: The Well-Tempered GridWilliams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, MASolo
2012Sol LeWitt - Wall Drawings from 1968 to 2007Centre Pompidou-Metz, MetzSolo
2012Line And ColorHerakleidon Museum, AthensSolo
2012Photographic Works 1968-2004Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
2012ACCROCHAGEGalerie Boisserée, CologneGroup
2012Artists in AmericaNassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn Harbor, NYGroup
2012Minimal ReloadedKunstraum Alexander Bürkle, FreiburgGroup
2012From Page to SpaceGalerija Murska Sobota, Murska SobotaGroup
2011Artist's BooksArt Laboratory Berlin, BerlinSolo
2010Remix: Sol LewittAlbright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NYSolo
2010Wall DrawingRhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago, ILSolo
2010Sol Lewitt: A Mercer Union Legacy Project - Mercer UnionA Centre For Contemporary Visual Art, Toronto, ONSolo
2010Sol LeWitt: Hartford's Native SonThe Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CTSolo
2010Sol LeWitt: Artist's BooksSite Gallery, SheffieldSolo
2009Seven Wall DrawingsMagasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall, StockholmSolo
2009Sol LeWitt: LocationsThe Barbara Krakow Gallery, Boston, MASolo
2009Pace PrintsNew York City, NYSolo
2009Forms Derived from a CubeThe Pace Gallery - 32 East 57th Street, New York City, NYSolo
2009Sculptures and gouachesMulier Mulier Gallery, Knokke-HeistSolo
2009Wall Drawing Scribble #15, 2007Annemarie Verna Gallery, ZurichSolo
2009Artist Rooms: Sol LeWittTate Liverpool, LiverpoolSolo
2009Walldrawing 815Exile, Berlin (closed, 2014)Solo
2009EmblemataFlorence Loewy, ParisSolo
2009AgnesDickinson Roundell Inc., New York City, NYSolo
2008The ABCDs of Sol LeWittWilliams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, MASolo
2008Representation, and an Audience of OneSterling and Francine Clark Art Institute - The Clark, Williamstown, MASolo
2008Monumental DrawingsGalleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna (GNAM) , RomeSolo
2008Color and Line, ReproducedSmart Museum of Art, Chicago, ILSolo
2008LeWitt x 2CAC - Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OHSolo
2007Sol LeWitt: Selected EditionsPace Prints, New York City, NYSolo
2007Scribble Wall DrawingsThe Pace Gallery - 32 East 57th Street, New York City, NYSolo
2007A cube with scribble bands in four directionsPaula Cooper Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2007Sol LeWitt in MemoriamMuseum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA), Chicago, ILSolo
2007GoachesMulier Mulier Gallery, Knokke-HeistSolo
2007Sol Lewitt: Works on Paper 1990 - 2004Serge Sorokko Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
2007Le Witt x 2MMoCA - The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Madison, WISolo
2006Drawing Series…Dia Art Foundation: Chelsea, New York City, NYSolo
2006MonoprintsPace Prints, New York City, NYSolo
2005Splotches and GouachesMargo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles, CASolo
2005Walldrawing for Josef AlbersQuadrat Bottrop - Josef Albers Museum, BottropSolo
2005New Sol LeWitt Wall DrawingsThe Pace Gallery - 534 West 25th Street, New York City, NYSolo
2005Complex Form No. 7Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NYSolo
2005Splotches, Whirls and TwirlsThe Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NYSolo
2005Lost VoicesSynagoge Stommeln, Pulheim-StommelnSolo
2005Photographic worksGemeentemuseum Den Haag, The HagueSolo
2005Recent WorkLyman Allyn Art Museum, New London, CTSolo
2004 The Zurich ProjectHaus Konstruktiv, Stiftung für konstruktive und konkrete Kunst, ZurichSolo
2004New Wall DrawingsFraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
2004Wall Drawing #1123, Planes with broken bands of colorThe Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CTSolo
2004Structures 1962 - 2003The Pace Gallery - 534 West 25th Street, New York City, NYSolo
2003Wall Drawing, Print, Works on PaperGalerie nächst St. Stephan - Rosemarie Schwarzwälder, ViennaSolo
2003Models for Proposed Dome Structures and Recent GouachesThe Barbara Krakow Gallery, Boston, MASolo
2003Recent AcquisitionsAddison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MASolo
2002Nordiska AkvarellmuseetThe Nordic Watercolour Museum, SkarhamnSolo
2002Prints: 1990-2001Art Gallery at University of Saint Josep, West Hartford, CTSolo
2002Drawings, Prints and Books 1968–1988National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, ACTSolo
2002Incomplete open cubesScottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art - SMoCA, Scottsdale, AZSolo
2001Incomplete Open CubesThe Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OHSolo
2001Variations of Incomplete Open CubesColby College Museum of Art, Waterville, MESolo
2001EmblemataDabbeni Studio d´arte contemporanea, LuganoSolo
2001incomplete open cubes (Matrix 143)The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CTSolo
2000New Large Concrete Block StructuresPaula Cooper Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2000A RetrospectiveWhitney Museum of American Art, New York City, NYSolo
2000Structure/Wall Drawing/GouachesThe Pace Gallery - 32 East 57th Street, New York City, NYSolo
2000Works on Paper, StructuresRhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago, ILSolo
2000Arcs and Bands in ColorsEdition Schellmann, MunichSolo
2000Sol LeWitt: A RetrospectiveSan Francisco Museum of Modern Art - SFMOMA, San Francisco, CASolo
1999Circles Arcs and BandsRhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago, ILSolo
1999New WorkPaula Cooper Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
1999Irregular FormsGalerie Thomas Schulte, BerlinSolo
1999New Work (Black and Colors)ICA - Institute of Contemporary Art - University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PASolo
1999Bands of colorMuseum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA), Chicago, ILSolo
1998Forms Derived from a Cube: Sol LeWittHousatonic Museum of Art, Bridgeport, CTSolo
1998Wall Drawings And Photographs (1969 Through 1998)Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
1997Works of the 60s and 70sUbu Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
1996Two works by Sol LeWittStedelijk Van Abbemuseum, EindhovenSolo
1996Sol LeWitt Prints 1970-1995 - Blaffer GalleryThe Art Museum of the University of Houston, Houston, TXSolo
1996Wall Drawing #801 SpiralBonnefantenmuseum, MaastrichtSolo
1995Sol LeWitt - Drawings 1958-1992The Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MDSolo
1994Systeme in BuchformWeserburg | Museum für moderne Kunst, BremenSolo
1993Zeichnungen (1958 - 1992)LWL - Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte Münster, MünsterSolo
1993Sol LeWitt: Twenty - Five Years of Wall Drawings, 1968 - 1993Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MASolo
1992Una Struttura per EsternoGalleria Massimo Minini, BresciaSolo
1990Sol Lewitt Mural InstallationIndianapolis Museum of Art - IMA, Indianapolis, INSolo
1989Sol Lewitt: Wall drawings 1984 - 1988Kunsthalle Bern, BernSolo
1988Sol Lewit: Walldrawingskestnergesellschaft, HannoverSolo
1987Sol LeWitt, gekippte FormenWestfälischer Kunstverein, MünsterSolo
1986New Wall DrawingsRhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago, ILSolo
1983MATRIX 63Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive BAM/PFA, Berkeley, CASolo
1983Structures et Wall DrawingsCAPC - Musée d'art contemporain, BordeauxSolo
1981Grids & ColorFrankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt/MainSolo
1980Statues (A Melodrama)John Weber Gallery, New York City, NY (closed)Solo
1979PhotogridsMargo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles, CASolo
1977Geometric Figures within Geometric FiguresUtah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City, UTSolo
1975Drawings and Wall DrawingsSan Francisco Museum of Modern Art - SFMOMA, San Francisco, CASolo
1973Wall Drawings. Drawings and StructuresGalleria L'Attico, RomeSolo
1969Sol LeWitt : Sculptures and Wall DrawingsMuseen Haus Lange / Haus Esters, KrefeldSolo