Gallerynote 2/2008

March 8 to April 19, 2008

SOL LEWITT (1928 – 2007), Prints.
Sol LeWitt regarded prints as an important, almost autonomous field of work and made use of the special possibilities it offered to the full and with aplomb. After all, he cared quite deeply about accessibility and dissemination. With these aims in mind, he also conceived the 'artist's book' and realized this aspect in a radical way.

In the case of graphic arts, the partnership-based collaboration with individual printers and their workshops played a central, inspiring role. For many years, this role was almost exclusively performed by Joe Watanabe. From other groups of works, we know that assistants had special importance in the work of Sol LeWitt and that this involved a redefined image of the artist and a precisely formulated artistic strategy. The Wall Drawings, Sol LeWitt's great contribution to contemporary art, would hardly have secured their place in the body of contemporary artistic achievement without the efforts and engagement of close assistants.

The rich graphic oeuvre that began in the early 1970s and brilliantly unfolded over the decades in the form of individual prints and portfolios makes use of the many different graphic techniques. Yet the artist did not simply execute his designs using print techniques in order to permit duplication. Nor was working directly on the printing plate a matter of tremendous importance. Rather, the close relationship with the printers and the ensuing direct dialogue allows the various printing techniques themselves and their very own specific qualities to come to the fore. The deep, velvety surface of the aquatint, for instance, or the brilliant, signal-like colorfulness of the linocut, the natural, visibly grained, almost tactile presence of the woodcut and the rich transparence of the color, generated through a special process that was developed on the basis of the screenprint lend this graphic body of works an exemplary status. In terms of formal aspects, the works are often organized in a typical, almost emblematic way – e.g. 'Lines in Four Directions' – or the artist developed permutative sequences over multiple sheets as in the portfolios, reminiscent of approaches taken in music.

A characteristic of Sol LeWitt's understanding of art is that it is not about demonstrating a concept that eventually amounts to nothing more than self-sufficiency. Rather, these artistic activities offer a generous variety of ordered visual occurrences, with the order increasingly displaced and superseded by the variety. The stringent artistic approach in no way predetermines the result. Instead, it fades ever more into the background, helping to guide, but discrete and almost instinctive.

Over the years, the gallery's publishing division issued a number of the significant pieces from our exhibition. This can only hint at our special connection with Sol LeWitt. The path taken by the gallery would have gone a different course had the encounter with the artist in the early 1970s not taken place. His friendship and steadfast loyalty accompanied and supported us for over thirty years. This exhibition is an initial fond remembrance, an homage to Sol LeWitt.


James Bishop, Paintings on Paper 1959 - 2007,
The Art Institute of Chicago, March 3 to May 5, 2008
Book CHF 45.00 (excl. shipping)