Sol LeWitt (1928 - 2007)
“The idea becomes the machine which makes the art” LeWitt
Coskun London is pleased to announce 30 years of Printmaking. A collection of etchings, aquatints, screen prints, linocuts and woodcuts by Sol Lewitt.
Serialization and the use of geometric shapes in their purest form were central themes in LeWitt’s work and remained so throughout his career, as was the idea of abiding by rules that he set in his mind, only to challenge and break them, much to the frustration of art critics who relished knowing how he worked.
“I wanted to emphasize the primacy of the idea in making art. My interest, starting around 1965, was in building conceptual systems, which grew out of Minimalism.” “The idea becomes the machine which makes the art” LeWitt.
Sol LeWitt (1928 – 2007) was an American artist linked to various movements, including Conceptual art and Minimalism. LeWitt rose to fame in the late 1960s with his wall drawings and "structures" (a term he preferred instead of "sculptures") but was prolific in a wide range of media including drawing, printmaking, and painting.
He has been the subject of hundreds of solo exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world since 1965. His prolific two and three-dimensional work ranges from wall drawings (over 1200 of which have been executed) to hundreds of works on paper extending to structures in the form of towers, pyramids, geometric forms, and progressions. These works range in size from gallery-sized installations to monumental outdoor pieces. Sol LeWitt’s frequent use of open, modular structures originates from the cube, a form that influenced the artist’s thinking from the time that he first became an artist.
LeWitt was born in Hartford, Connecticut to a family of Jewish immigrants from Russia. After receiving a BFA from Syracuse University in 1949, LeWitt travelled to Europe where he was exposed to Old Master painting. Shortly thereafter, he served in the Korean War, first in California, then Japan, and finally Korea. LeWitt moved to New York City in the 1950s and studied at the School of Visual Arts while also pursuing his interest in design at Seventeen magazine, where he did paste-ups, mechanicals, and photostats. Later, for a year, he was a graphic designer in the office of architect I.M. Pei. Around that time, LeWitt also discovered the work of the late 19th-century photographer Edward Muybridge, whose studies in sequence and locomotion were an early influence. These experiences, combined with an entry-level job he took in 1960 at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, would influence LeWitt's later work.
At the MoMA, LeWitt’s co-workers included fellow artists Robert Ryman, Dan Flavin, and Robert Mangold. Curator Dorothy Canning Miller's now famous 1960 “Sixteen Americans” exhibition with work by Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Frank Stella created a swell of excitement and discussion among the community of artists with whom LeWitt associated. In 1966, he participated in the seminal "Primary Structures" exhibit at the Jewish Museum in New York submitting an untitled, open modular cube of 9 units. Interviewed in 1993 about those years LeWitt remarked, “I decided I would make color or form recede and proceed in a three-dimensional way.”
‘When asked what the common denominator [was] between his early work and the recent boldly painted wall drawings, the sensuous curvilinear gouaches, and the hard-edged concrete block structures, LeWitt answered matter-of-factly, “The common denominator is my mind” ’
In a major collaboration among three institutions, Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective also opens at MASS MoCA (the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art), in North Adams, Massachusetts, on November 16, 2008. The landmark installation comprises forty years of work by Sol LeWitt, one of the most influential contemporary artists of the last half century.
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