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(1928 – 2007), United States

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.

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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.

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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Irregular Grid by Sol LeWitt contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Sol LeWitt Irregular Grid, 2001 Gouache on paper
17.1 x 57.1 cm
Waddington Custot Contact Gallery
Irregular Curves by Sol LeWitt contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Sol LeWitt Irregular Curves, 2000 Gouache on paper
153 x 1505 cm
Galerie Greta Meert Request Price & Availability
Project Box by Sol LeWitt contemporary artwork sculpture
Sol LeWitt Project Box, 1990 Acrylic and drawing ink on cherry wood, silk lining, Hydrocote finish
20.3 x 20.3 x 20.3 cm
Marian Goodman Gallery Request Price & Availability
Horizontal Color Bands and Vertical Color Bands by Sol LeWitt contemporary artwork print
Sol LeWitt Horizontal Color Bands and Vertical Color Bands, 1991 Aquatint on Somerset Satin White paper
61 x 106.7 cm
Galerie Lelong & Co. New York Request Price & Availability
Project for Sculpture in Grenoble, (drawing and sculpture) by Sol LeWitt contemporary artwork works on paper, sculpture, drawing
Sol LeWitt Project for Sculpture in Grenoble, (drawing and sculpture), 1971 Sculpture: enamel on metal; drawing: ink on paper
Andrew Kreps Gallery Request Price & Availability
Incomplete Open Cube 10/4 by Sol LeWitt contemporary artwork sculpture
Sol LeWitt Incomplete Open Cube 10/4, 1974 Painted aluminium
105.4 x 105.4 x 105.4 cm
Pace Gallery
Location of lines n°1-5 by Sol LeWitt contemporary artwork print
Sol LeWitt Location of lines n°1-5, 1975 Etching
45.5 x 45.5 cm
Galerie Lelong & Co. Paris Request Price & Availability
Splotch #17 by Sol LeWitt contemporary artwork sculpture
Sol LeWitt Splotch #17, 2005 Fibreglass
68 x 68 x 68 inches
Kavi Gupta Request Price & Availability
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Sol LeWitt
upcoming & recent
exhibitions

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Represented by these
Ocula Member Galleries

Lisson Gallery contemporary art gallery in Lisson Street, London, United Kingdom
Lisson Gallery Beijing, London, Los Angeles, New York, Shanghai
Pace Gallery contemporary art gallery in 540 West 25th Street, New York, United States
Pace Gallery Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo +3
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Sol LeWitt in
Ocula Magazine

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