Sol LeWitt

(b. 1928, Hartford – d. 2007, New York)

“The ideas need not be complex. Most ideas that are successful are ludicrously simple. Successful ideas generally have the appearance of simplicity because they seem inevitable.” Sol LeWitt (1967)

Sol LeWitt is considered one of the most profound artists to have emerged in the 1960s. He worked in a variety of media making drawings and structures (a term that he preferred to sculpture) by reducing art to the most basic shapes and colors. He tried “to recreate art, to start from square one” beginning literally with squares and cubes. Unlike many of his peers’ interest in industrial materials such as Plexiglass or steel in the early 1960s, LeWitt was instead focused on systems and concepts — volume, transparency, sequences, variations, stasis, irregularity and so on — which he expressed in words that might or might not be translated into structures, photographs or drawings. His work reflected the poetry of repeated patterns and their occasional variations, along with the solid rationality of geometric systems. He subscribed to the impermanence inherent in conceptualism not making precious one-of-a-kind objects for posterity, and used to say that “Objects are perishable, but ideas need not be.”

For Wall Drawing No. 256 (1975), he wrote the text “A six-inch (15cm) grid covering a black wall. White lines from the midpoints of four sides to random points on the grid.” This concept in the form of an instruction is to be followed in order to implement the work. According to LeWitt the work of art can be made by any other person, once the concept has been decided beforehand. Depending on the size of the wall and the execution of the instructions each wall drawing becomes something unique. As a result of imprecise measurements made for selected points on the grid, the drawn lines cross each other earlier or later on the wall. Hence, chance becomes a factor of significance and there is no simple one way of experiencing reality. As in the words of LeWitt in Sentences on Conceptual Art (1969), “Conceptual artists are mystics rather than rationalists. They leap to conclusions that logic cannot reach.”