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(1928 – 2007), USA

Sol LeWitt Biography

One of the fathers of Conceptual and Minimalist art, Sol LeWitt was born in 1928 to Eastern European immigrant parents in the United States. He studied at Syracuse University, New York, before being drafted to the Korean War, where he created posters for the Special Services. After the war, he moved to New York city in 1953 to pursue an interest in illustration. Whilst working at The Museum of Modern Art, Le Witt became associated with a group of artists including Dan Flavin and Robert Ryman, and there, or thereabouts, Minimalism and Conceptualism was born. In particular LeWitt was influenced by Russian Constructivism and the photographer Eadweard Muybridge, as well as the art of Frank Stella and Jasper Johns.

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LeWitt initially made sculptures from cubes and cement blocks, but he later began to focus on drawing and painting. Throughout his career, LeWitt's artworks continued to investigate the distillation process—be it of form to simple shapes and colours, or of artworks to plans or instructions to create the work. In 'Paragraphs on Conceptual Art' (1967), he stated 'The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.' Art was reaching a political turning-point in the 1960s, where idea started being favoured over finished product. LeWitt enjoyed the temporality behind Conceptual art—the notion that his wall drawings (the first of which he created in 1968 at Paula Cooper Gallery, New York) would be painted over after an exhibition. The objects were perishable but the idea could live on. He later turned from wall drawings to wall paintings, using bright washes of ink and acrylic.

LeWitt is known for his interest in plan over product. He would write instructions detailing paintings or drawings of large geometric shapes that teams would then interpret and execute. The final artwork emphasises the difference between the language that opens the mind up to a physical manifestation, and the physical manifestation itself. In this vein of work, the trace of the artist is found in the plans that others could then interpret and complete. Sometimes these blueprints would be intentionally vague, to allow for a range of outcomes depending on interpretation. Others were more logical and direct.

LeWitt often rejected awards and was shy of limelight. In 1980 he created Autobiography—a set of photographs of every corner and aspect of his loft in Manhattan in detail. This act of simultaneous statement of self and removal of self exemplifies LeWitt's practice of avoiding a direct fingerprint of the artist, letting it show through in the idea instead of the image or brushstroke. Though LeWitt was shy, he was also generous. The nature of collaboration in his work also flowed through his willingness to help younger artists along their way.

Not long after his retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1978 LeWitt found himself growing tired of the New York art scene. He moved to Spoleto, Italy, and there found himself re-energised by the work of traditional artists such as Giotto. Keeping to the same structures of instruction with which he had become a household name, he began experimenting with colour reminiscent of the frescoes that so enthralled him after his move. LeWitt died in 2007 in New York at 78.

Biography by Casey Carsel | Ocula | 2017

Sol LeWitt Featured Artworks

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Cube on a Cube by Sol LeWitt contemporary artwork
Sol LeWittCube on a Cube, 2005Syntactic polyurethane and lacquer
11 1/4 x 12 x 12 inches
Krakow Witkin Gallery Contact Gallery
Irregular Grid by Sol LeWitt contemporary artwork
Sol LeWittIrregular Grid, 2001Gouache on paper
17.1 x 57.1 cm
Waddington Custot Contact Gallery
Tangled Bands by Sol LeWitt contemporary artwork
Sol LeWittTangled Bands, 2002Gouache on paper
121 x 81.5 cm
Galerie Greta Meert Contact Gallery
Horizontal Color Bands and Vertical Color Bands by Sol LeWitt contemporary artwork
Sol LeWittHorizontal Color Bands and Vertical Color Bands, 1991Aquatint on Somerset Satin White paper
61 x 106.7 cm
Galerie Lelong & Co. New York Contact Gallery
PYRAMID by Sol LeWitt contemporary artwork
Sol LeWittPYRAMID, 1986Gouache on paper
55.9 x 76.2 cm
The Club Contact Gallery
Incomplete Open Cube 10/4 by Sol LeWitt contemporary artwork
Sol LeWittIncomplete Open Cube 10/4, 1974Painted aluminium
105.4 x 105.4 x 105.4 cm
Pace Gallery
Location of lines n°1-5 by Sol LeWitt contemporary artwork
Sol LeWittLocation of lines n°1-5, 1975Etching
45.5 x 45.5 cm
Galerie Lelong & Co. Paris Contact Gallery
Splotch #17 by Sol LeWitt contemporary artwork
Sol LeWittSplotch #17, 2005Fibreglass
68 x 68 x 68 inches
Kavi Gupta Contact Gallery

Sol LeWitt Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Blanc sur Blanc at Gagosian, Paris
Closed
16 January–7 March 2020 Group Exhibition Blanc sur Blanc GagosianParis
Contemporary art exhibition, Sol LeWitt, Forms derived from a cube in two and three dimensions, and one wall work at Krakow Witkin Gallery, Boston
Closed
8 January–29 February 2020 Sol LeWitt Forms derived from a cube in two and three dimensions, and one wall work Krakow Witkin GalleryBoston
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, The Sylvio Perlstein Collection A Luta Continua at Hauser & Wirth, Hong Kong
Closed
23 May–27 July 2019 Group Exhibition The Sylvio Perlstein Collection A Luta Continua Hauser & WirthHong Kong

Sol LeWitt Represented By

Lisson Gallery contemporary art gallery in Lisson Street, London, United Kingdom Lisson Gallery East Hampton, London, New York, Shanghai
Pace Gallery contemporary art gallery in New York, USA Pace Gallery New York, London, Geneva, Palo Alto, Hong Kong, Seoul, Beijing

Sol LeWitt In Ocula Magazine

ADAA The Art Show 2020 Ocula Photolog ADAA The Art Show 2020

Members of The Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA) joined forces for The Art Show at the end of February (27 February–1 March 2020). The 2020 iteration saw more than half of its presentations dedicated to a single artist and 19 exhibitions focused on female artists, in addition to vibrant thematic and group surveys.

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Artful Manifestations Ocula Report Artful Manifestations By Diana d'Arenberg, Switzerland

Given Manifesta’s budget of a reported 5 million francs—with an alleged 8000 euros going to each of the artists to produce work—the biennial would have been better titled ‘What people do for no money’

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Five must-see exhibitions in London this spring Ocula Report Five must-see exhibitions in London this spring By Dr Kostas Prapoglou, London

This spring five exhibitions in London take us on a journey to a domain of spatial and time-related inspirations. Human presence, intervention or absence appear as a unifying subject. Ronchini Gallery Jan Fabre: Knight of the Night Until 12 March 2016 At Ronchini Gallery in Mayfair, Belgian artist Jan Fabre has created one of his unique...

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Sol LeWitt In Related Press

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MASS MoCA: It’s a Site for All Eyes Related Press MASS MoCA: It’s a Site for All Eyes 15 June 2017, The New York Times

MASS MoCA, the vast, multibuilding museum of contemporary art here, is a weird and wonderful place. For one, the dominance of brick walls, wood floors, big windows and frequent columns of its repurposed 19th-century factory buildings is the apotheosis of SoHo, whose small-industry loft spaces were taken over by commercial art galleries in the...

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10 Places to See Public Art in 2017 Related Press 10 Places to See Public Art in 2017 26 January 2017, The New York Times

Redwood City, California A benevolent pirate ship is about to settle in Redwood City, thanks to the curator Lance Fung. Instead of looters, the artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov’s large-scale boat installation (with the word 'IMAGINE' nearby) will bring a new emphasis on public art to the area. Fung — who is best known for curating a show of...

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Julian Rosefeldt's 'Manifesto' of manifestos at the Armory with Cate Blanchett Related Press Julian Rosefeldt's 'Manifesto' of manifestos at the Armory with Cate Blanchett 26 December 2016, Whitewall

More than 50 significant manifestos from arguably some of the most brilliant artists and theorists of our time are featured in absurd or prosaic everyday scenes of contemporary life: a worker in a garbage incineration plant, a choreographer rehearsing with his dancers, a TV news anchor reporting the news, a punk at an after party. The discordance...

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Your FIAC Paris must-do list Related Press Your FIAC Paris must-do list 19 October 2016, Whitewall

It’s FIAC Week! Whitewaller Paris brings you 12 things you should be sure not to miss this week. 1. FIAC October 20-23—8th arrondissement The 43rd edition of FIAC at the Grand Palais, the fair’s customary venue, is hosting this year 186 galleries from 27 countries and includes 43 newcomers, alongside well known spaces...

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Sol LeWitt In Video & Audio

A Luta Continua. The Sylvio Perlstein Collection Related Video & Audio A Luta Continua. The Sylvio Perlstein Collection 8 May 2018, Hauser & Wirth

Unfolding across all three floors of Hauser & Wirth New York, 22 nd Street, A Luta Continua is the first United States presentation of the Sylvio Perlstein Collection. Curated by David Rosenberg, the exhibition presents more than 360 works by some 250 artists. Among these are Josef Albers, Carl Andre, Diane Arbus, Hans Bellmer, André...

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