LeWitt, Sol, 1928-2007

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Sol LeWitt (1928 – 2007) Sol LeWitt was born on September 9th, 1928 in Hartford, Connecticut to Eastern European immigrants. His father, a doctor and inventor, died when he was 6. Soon after, he moved with his mother, a nurse, to live with an aunt in New Britain, Connecticut. His mother took him to art classes at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford and he would draw on wrapping paper from his aunt’s grocery store. LeWitt received a BFA from Syracuse University in 1949 (where he made his first prints) and then was drafted in the Korean War in 1951. During his service, he made posters for the Special Services and spent time in Japan, where he bought the first works that became the basis of a large personal art collection. In 1953, he moved to New York City, where he studied at the Cartoonists and Illustrators School (now the School of Visual Arts) and worked for Seventeen Magazine, making paste-ups, mechanicals and Photostats. He was then hired as a graphic designer in I.M. Pei’s architecture firm. In 1960, he took an entry-level job at the Museum of Modern Art, where he met Dan Flavin, Robert Ryman, Lucy Lippard and Robert Mangold. Together, through the “Sixteen Americans” exhibition, they were introduced to the work of Jasper Johns and Frank Stella and Robert Rauschenberg. LeWitt was also interested in Russian Constructivism, with its engineering aesthetic and the idea of making utilitarian art in an industrialized age. However, the work that influenced him the most was Eadweard Muybridge’s serial photography, sequential studies of people and animals in motion, which he came across in a book that somebody had left in his apartment. LeWitt’s work from the early 1960s, works on canvas coated with thick gestural oil paint, each featured one of Muybridge’s figures in motion. LeWitt’s three dimensional structural works from the mid to late 1960s – such as Serial Project, Three Part Variations on Three Different Cubes, and hundreds of sculptures made of open white cubes - grew out of this interest in the serial. He applied the same system of permutations and variations in his prints, drawings on paper and drawings on the wall. Sol LeWitt executed his first wall drawing in 1968 at Paula Cooper Gallery in New York. Like many of the wall drawings after this, Wall Drawing #1 consisted of a system of parallel lines drawn with black pencil on a white wall in four directions (vertical, horizontal, diagonal left, and diagonal right.) By drawing directly on the wall, the work’s duration was limited and ultimately the wall drawings are painted over. It also allowed him to achieve his objective of reinforcing flatness and making a work as two-dimensional as possible. Wall Drawing #1 also emphasized the premise of the artwork over the final product. In a 1969 article for Studio International, LeWitt wrote, “Two-dimensional works are not seen as objects. The work is a manifestation of an idea. It is an idea and not an object.” Without the traditional support of canvas or paper, wall drawings exist as a set of instructions and can be installed again and again. This radical shift to drawing on the wall, followed the publication of Paragraphs on Conceptual Art, where he wrote, “When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes the machine that makes the art.” Although LeWitt drew Wall Drawing #1 on Paula Cooper’s gallery wall himself, he soon found that a team of assistants could oftentimes install his work better. He believed that the idea of his work superseded the art itself, as curator Andrea Miller-Keller said, "The essence of LeWitt's work is the original idea as formulated in the artist's mind." He soon took this and applied it to the print medium through numerous projects with numerous techniques. In the late ‘70s, shortly after his first retrospective the at Museum of Modern Art and after numerous years of exhibiting in Italy, LeWitt moved to Spoleto, Italy. There he saw frescos by Fillippo Lippi, Massaccio, Fra Angelico and Giotto’s in local churches, museums and convents. In 1983, LeWitt’s art underwent a major transformation and he began to experiment with India ink and color ink washes, a nod to the local Trecento and Quattrocento works. He acknowledged the influence of these masterpieces on his own drawings, and went so far to say, that in his work he strived “to produce something [he] would not be ashamed to show Giotto.” In the exhibition catalogue for Think with Senses – Feel with Mind, Art in the Present, part of the 2007 Venice Biennale, Robert Storr wrote that LeWitt “proved over and over again that the strict, systematic realization of a singular working premise is bound to produce results that will surprise both the maker and the viewer by exceeding expectation and giving eye-and-mind expanding physical dimensions to mental abstractions.” Until 2033, LeWitt’s wall drawings are the subject of a solo exhibition titled Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Sol LeWitt died in 2007 in New York City. Source: https://www.sollewittprints.org/biography
Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
contributorOf LeWitt, Sol: Artist file
referencedIn Lucy R. Lippard papers, 1940s-2006, bulk 1968-1990 Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
referencedIn Hutchinson, Peter A., 1930-. Peter Hutchinson interview, 1967 Jul. 27 [sound recording]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf LeWitt, Sol, 1928-2007. Artist file : miscellaneous uncataloged material. Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)
creatorOf Panza, Giuseppe. Giuseppe Panza papers, 1956-1990. getty research institute
referencedIn Dwan Gallery publications and ephemera, 1960-1971 Getty Research Institute
referencedIn Alexander, Brooke. Artists and printmaking : the making of a print : lecture, 1984 February 29 / by Edmund Brooke Alexander. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Dwan Gallery records, 1959 - circa 1982, bulk 1959-1971 Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
creatorOf Conant, Howard Somers, 1921-. Howard Somers Conant papers, [ca.1946]-1985. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Parasite Archive, Bulk, 1991-1999, 1966-1999 Fales Library & Special Collections
referencedIn Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt papers, 1905-1987, bulk 1952-1987 Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
referencedIn Hal Glicksman papers, 1927-2010 The Getty Research Institute
referencedIn Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.). Sol Lewitt. 1978: Archives pamphlet file : miscellaneous uncataloged material. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library
creatorOf Brooklyn Museum. Dept. of Photography. Records, Exhibition negatives: installations. Pyramid: A Wall Drawing by Sol LeWitt. 1985. Brooklyn Museum Libraries & Archives
referencedIn LeWitt, Sol, 1928- : [miscellaneous ephemeral material]. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library
contributorOf LeWitt, Sol: Artist file Getty Research Institute
creatorOf LeWitt, Sol, 1928-2007. Oral history interview with Sol LeWitt, 1974 July 15. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Nancy Drysdale Gallery records, 1971-1996 Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
referencedIn Printed Matter, Inc. Printed Matter, Inc. records, 1975-1991. Smithsonian Institution. Libraries
creatorOf Lewitt, Sol, 1928-2007. Six part drawing using two colours in each part [Multimédia multisupport]. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
referencedIn Dwan, Virginia. Oral history interview with Virginia Dwan, 1984 Mar. 21-June 7. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Public Art Fund. Public Art Fund Archive 1966-2009. New York University, Fales Collection
referencedIn Glicksman, Hal, 1937-. Hal Glicksman papers, circa 1927-2010. getty research institute
referencedIn Rorimer, Anne. Oral history interview with Anne Rorimer, 2010 Nov. 15-16. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Nancy Drysdale Gallery (Washington, D.C.). Nancy Drysdale Gallery records, 1971-1996. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Brooklyn Museum. Dept. of Painting and Sculpture. Institutional file, Exhibitions. Pyramid, a wall drawing by Sol LeWitt. Brooklyn Museum Libraries & Archives
referencedIn 0 to 9 Archive, 1967-1969 Fales Library & Special Collections
creatorOf Wells, Mac, 1925-. Mac Wells papers, 1951-2002. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Lewitt, Sol, 1928-2007. Six part drawing using two colours in each part. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
referencedIn Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.). Sol Lewitt prints 1970-1995. 1996 : Archives pamphlet file : miscellaneous uncataloged material. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library
referencedIn Hutchinson, Peter A., 1930-. Oral history interview with Peter Hutchinson, 1967 July 27. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Lewitt, Sol : Biographical file. Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
referencedIn B. R. Kornblatt Gallery. B.R. Kornblatt Gallery records, 1975-1992. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Lewitt, Sol, 1928-2007. Pièce en cinq unités en forme de croix. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
contributorOf Phyllis Tuchman interviews with artists, 1968-1987 Getty Research Institute
creatorOf Lewitt, Sol, 1928-2007. Toutes les combinaisons de deux lignes... Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf Lewitt, Sol, 1928-2007. Toutes les combinaisons de deux lignes... [Multimédia multisupport]. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf Joost-Gaugier, Christiane L. Christian L. Joost-Gaugier postcards from Sol Lewitt, 1980-1992. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Giuseppe Panza papers, 1956-1990 getty research institute
creatorOf LeWitt, Sol, 1928-2007. Franklin Furnace artist file : miscellaneous uncataloged material. Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)
creatorOf Smithson, Robert. Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt papers, 1905-1987. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf LeWitt, Sol, 1928-2007. Oral history, 1994. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library
referencedIn Minimal and Conceptual Art Documents, 1969-1989 getty research institute
creatorOf Brooklyn Museum. Dept. of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. Records, Exhibition views: installations. Sol LeWitt, Print Retrospective 1970-1977. 1978. Brooklyn Museum Libraries & Archives
creatorOf Lewitt, Sol, 1928-. [Sol Lewitt : International Art & Artists File]. Libraries Australia
referencedIn Dwan, Virginia. Virginia Dwan interviews, 1984 Mar. 21 - June 7. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Piper, Adrian, 1948-. Adrian Piper papers, 1966-1990. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Lippard, Lucy R. Oral history interview with Lucy Lippard, 2011 Mar. 15. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Public Art Fund Archive, 1966-2009 Fales Library & Special Collections
creatorOf LeWitt, Sol, 1928-2007. [Sol LeWitt] : artist file John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Library, Ringling Museum Library
creatorOf LeWitt, Sol, 1928-2007. Sol Lewitt interview, 1974 July 15. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf New Britain Museum of American Art. New Britain Museum of American Art records, 1907-1978. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf LeWitt, Sol, 1928-2007. Sol Lewitt: incomplete open cubes, mock-up [graphic] / Sol LeWitt. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago, Ill.). Museum of Contemporary Art interviews, 1979-1983. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Dwan, Virginia. Oral history interview with Virginia Dwan, 1984 Mar. 21-June 7. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Lewitt, Sol, 1928-2007. Pièce en cinq unités en forme de croix [Multimédia multisupport]. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf LeWitt, Sol, 1928-2007. Artist file. Brooklyn Museum Libraries & Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Alexander, Brooke. person
associatedWith Barr, Alfred Hamilton, 1902-1981. person
associatedWith B. R. Kornblatt Gallery. corporateBody
associatedWith Brooklyn Museum. Dept. of Painting and Sculpture. corporateBody
associatedWith Brooklyn Museum. Dept. of Photography. corporateBody
associatedWith Brooklyn Museum. Dept. of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. corporateBody
associatedWith Candido, Anthony, 1924- person
associatedWith Conant, Howard Somers, 1921- person
associatedWith Cummings, Paul person
associatedWith Drexler, Arthur. person
associatedWith Dwan Gallery corporateBody
associatedWith Dwan Gallery (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Dwan, Virginia person
associatedWith Flavin, Dan, 1933-1996. person
associatedWith Glicksman, Hal person
associatedWith Glicksman, Hal, 1937- person
associatedWith Hutchinson, Peter A., 1930- person
associatedWith Joost-Gaugier, Christiane L. person
associatedWith Kerkam, Earl, 1891-1965. person
associatedWith Leavin, Margo. person
associatedWith Legg, Alicia, 1915- person
associatedWith Lippard, Lucy R. person
associatedWith Mangold, Robert, 1937- person
associatedWith Margo Leavin Gallery corporateBody
associatedWith Miller, Dorothy Canning, 1904-2003. person
associatedWith Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago, Ill.) corporateBody
associatedWith Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Muybridge, Eadweard, 1830-1904. person
associatedWith Nancy Drysdale Gallery corporateBody
associatedWith Nancy Drysdale Gallery (Washington, D.C.) corporateBody
associatedWith National Endowment for the Humanities, corporateBody
associatedWith New Britain Museum of American Art. corporateBody
associatedWith Panza, Giuseppe. person
associatedWith Panza, Giuseppe—Art collections person
associatedWith Piper, Adrian, 1948- person
associatedWith Printed Matter, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Public Art Fund. corporateBody
associatedWith Rorimer, Anne person
associatedWith Ryman, Robert, 1930- person
associatedWith Smithson, Robert person
associatedWith Smithson, Robert. person
associatedWith Syracuse University corporateBody
associatedWith Szeemann, Harald, 1933-2005 person
associatedWith The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Wells, Mac, 1925- person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
United States
New York (State)--New York
United States
Subject
Graphic artists--Interviews
Sculptors--Interviews
Geometrical drawing
Conceptual art--Exhibitions
Cube in art
Sculpture, American--20th century
Installations (Art)--Exhibitions
Minimal sculpture
Abstract Expressionism
Occupation
Artists, American
Function

Person

Birth 1928-09-09

Death 2007-04-08

Male

Americans

English

Information

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