SOL LEWITT (b. 1928 Hartford, Connecticut, USA)
Wall Drawing – Structure – Gouaches
In his «Sentences on Conceptual Art» from 1969, Sol LeWitt analytically and pragmatically encapsulated his view of things in thirty-five sentences. It is by no means a set of prescriptions. Rather, these clever insights convey minimum conditions for maximum results. In addition, they sketch a new image of the artist that might as well be considered a set of instructions for self-cleansing. These sentences go a long way to clear up all the misconceptions regarding his work as well as the work of many other important artists from those historic years. To open a possibility of survival for the sociocultural field of art with decency and vital relevance, a modification of the rules, if there were any at all, was called for. With avant-gardism and rule breaking having nowadays become socially institutionalized, it seems this has succeeded almost too well. In any case, the current art scene would be inconceivable without the efforts of a quite concise number of artists of the 1960s and 70s.
Sol LeWitt represents the best characteristics of his generation: generosity, tolerance, openness and an unbridled interest in a productive continued existence of the art system. The artist's person should by no means be indecorously offended. A personal biography that could explain the origin and expression of his formulations from a psychological perspective is not of interest here. Nor can the work be made subordinate to a history of development running parallel to the life lived by the author. The work can adequately be described only as the result of an immanent genealogy. In fact, a tremendous oeuvre was produced over the course of a good forty-five years whose logical consistency lies in productively circumventing all linear suppositions and expectations. Of course, this is not feasible without the invention of highly suitable tools. In times of upheaval and change, the potential for innovation and transformation is given undisputed priority. Between 1958 and 1961, Sol LeWitt addressed the history and categories of art. He tested the suitability of figure, sign and word for picture objects and object pictures. A number of trenchant photographic works particularly stand out. Throughout the decades, LeWitt has time and again made use of photography as side tracks with uncorrupted directness.
From 1962 onwards, he produced objects using a reduced, simple formal vocabulary and monochrome color scheme. With the «Black & White Open Cubes» starting in 1965 and the «Serial Structures» beginning in 1967, he initiates a form of three-dimensional objects that culminated in the «Incomplete Open Cubes» from 1974 and has continued to lead to new and surprising outcomes.
The most important and fruitful invention for the art of the past thirty-five years is a mode of artistic presentation that has since become taken for granted: the Wall Drawing. In 1968, it was applied for the first time and in two texts from 1970 (Arts Magazine) and 1971 (Art Now) Sol LeWitt outlined something of an instruction manual, which still continues to have model character today.
In exemplary fullness of form, colorfulness and orchestration, the work complex of Wall Drawings has gone beyond the museum and gallery context. Nevertheless, the work of Sol LeWitt should be positioned within the history of art and a mental art space.
In the studio, the artist focuses exclusively on works on paper. Here there are neither assistants nor producers. No other artist of his generation has amassed a comparable oeuvre of graphic work.
Our exhibition is the eleventh of the artist in our gallery spaces since 1975.
ART 50 Basel
June 12 to June 16, 2019
AGNES MARTIN Religion of Love | RICHARD TUTTLE Illustration
Publishers: Estate of Agnes Martin Dream Tree Project, Inc. Richard Tuttle Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne, Germany
Paintings on Paper
Editors: Michael Semff, Gianfranco Verna