Sol LeWitt (1928-2007)
Solomon (Sol) LeWitt was an American artist who specialized in conceptualism and minimalism. He is most known for his two-dimensional wall drawings and three-dimensional structures (sculptures). Additionally, he worked in printmaking, painting, and photography. LeWitt was born in Connecticut and is of Russian-Jewish heritage. He obtained his Bachelors of Fine Art from Syracuse University in 1949 and traveled to Europe where he was inspired by old master paintings. Later, he briefly served in the Korean war as a graphic artist and in 1953 he set up an art studio in New York City.
In 1960 LeWitt began working night shifts at the Museum of Modern Art, New York where he was introduced to several artists including Dan Flavin, Robert Mangold, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella and Robert Smithson. He taught at New York University, the Cooper Union, and The School of Visual Arts from the late 60’s to the early 70’s.
LeWitt’s works are most known in two and three-dimensional formats and have been reduced to basic elements. The structures (sculptures) were influenced by the form of the cube. LeWitt said he wanted it to appear as though he peeled off the skin of a cube to reveal the sculpture within. His wall drawings were transferred directly onto the wall with crayon, graphite, colored pencil, acrylic and India ink. In these wall drawings he used a process of systematic probability where he had 24 potential combinations with 4 types of lines: horizontal, vertical, diagonal left, and diagonal right. He would then apply the following in four different series: Rotation, Mirror, Cross and Reverse Mirror, and Cross Reverse. His interest in the relationships between patterns, repetition, and possibilities are evident in these wall drawings. He also worked on scribble drawing--these drawings, like the wall drawings, had reason and pattern in their process and execution. His conceptual approach to art has inspired thousands and continues to leave a lasting impression on young artist and students to this day.
LeWitt died from cancer complications in 2007. The Jewish Museum held an exhibition of his works in 1966 and the Museum of Modern Art, New York opened a retrospective from 1977-1979 and created a traveling show called Sol LeWitt Prints 1970-1995. His works are in the permanent collections of the Tate, London, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and The Guggenheim.