the process is the artwork

Sol LeWitt

Sol LeWitt (1928-2007) was an American artist, linked to various art movements such as Conceptual Art and Minimalism (1). LeWitt was in the forefront of a radical aesthetic practice, reacting to the Abstract Expressionism movement of the 60s. His work is said to advocate equality, accessibility, open exchange, and public space, all core elements of democracy. Emphasising the importance of the concept or idea, his works are executed by others to strict instructions. LeWitt’s wall drawings redefined the way by which art could be purchased and owned, criticising the proprietary rights imposed by his fellow artists. LeWitt regarded copying as “the most sincere form of flattery” and insisted that anyone could copy his wall drawings, as long as the copier follows his instructions (2).

LeWitt also valued the processual aspects of making art, stating that “If the artist carried through his idea and makes it into visible form, then all the steps in the process are of importance. The idea itself, even if not made visual, is as much a work of art as any finished product.” (3) In June 1967 he published his “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art” in Artforum, where he wrote “All intervening steps, scribbles, sketches, drawings, failed work models, studies thoughts, conversations, are of interest. Those that show the thought process of the artist are sometimes more interesting than the final product” (4).

LeWitt has been and continues to be a strong influence on new generations of young artists, including myself.

Links:
Sol Lewitt Retrospective, Mass Moca
Sol Lewitt on Lisson Gallery

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Sources:
(1) Wikipedia.org. 2011. Sol Lewitt. Available from URL: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sol_Lewitt#cite_note-0. Downloaded [08.02.2011].
(2) Garrels, Gary, ed. 2000. Sol Lewitt: A Retrospective. pp. 369-371. New Haven and London: Yale University Press
(3) Lisson Gallery. Sol Lewitt. Available from URL http://www.lissongallery.com/#/artists/sol-lewitt/works/. Downloaded [08.02.2011].
(4) Lewitt, Sol. “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art”. Artforum Vol. 5, no. 10, Summer 1967, pp 79-83. Available in parts from URL: http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=SWu4SB92fHMC&pg=PA846&lpg=PA846&dq=sol+lewitt+art+in+theory&source=bl&ots=rRtBBwoIPo&sig=7caOOwL0wSneseAtmd2WvlZyIKE&hl=en&ei=6HZRTYfYGcbOswbfoPjWBg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CB0Q6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=paragraphs%20on%20conceptual%20art&f=false
(5) Foster, Hal, Rosalind Krauss, Yves-Alain Bois and Benjamin H.D. Buchloch. 2004. Art Since 1900. London: Thames & Hudson. pp 470-474.

6 responses

  1. I like this minimalism!

    February 9, 2011 at 8:54 am

  2. from the documentary film conceptual paradise

    February 9, 2011 at 10:33 am

  3. @ Rass: Thanks!

    In this Interview you are referring to, Lewitt says he rejects minimalism. His works are mainly conceptual, although minimalistic in appearance. So I’m a bit confused, really. My source for this is Wikipedia, which can always be a bit sketchy a reference.

    Wikipedia sites “Michael McNay, “Sol LeWitt Obituary,” The Guardian, April 11, 2007″ as a reference, which can be found on URL http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/2007/apr/11/guardianobituaries.usa.

    But here, the only mention of minimalism is this: “In 1968, he heralded this move away from minimalism with a work which he buried in a garden and gave the Pooh-like title of Buried Cube Containing an Object of Importance but Little Value”.

    So I should perhaps modify the text, then?

    Thanks for the clarification

    February 9, 2011 at 12:23 pm

  4. @Rass

    Well, I’ve found another reference in the New York Times, linking him to minimalism, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/09/arts/design/09lewitt.html : “Mr. LeWitt helped establish Conceptualism and Minimalism as dominant movements of the postwar era”.

    I remember reading something about LeWitt as a Postminimalist, but I can’t remeber the reference. I’ll post it if I find it.

    February 9, 2011 at 12:30 pm

  5. “As an active artist, LeWitt has been identified with two late 20th-century movements, Minimalism and Conceptualism. In a sense, both movements are so simple that they require complex definitions. Minimalist artists emphasize basic materials and shapes and make deliberate efforts to avoid both subject matter and the “hand of the artist.” Conceptualism moves a step further by stressing the idea or concept of the work, not the object.

    Early in LeWitt’s career his repetition of serial shapes and emphasis on basic lines and planes made his sculpture fit into the Minimalist category, along with that of sculptors such as Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, and Robert Morris. From that foundation he moved into work that relied less on the formal qualities and more on the ideas of repetition, sequence, and system, and thus became more of a Conceptualist.”

    From: http://www.answers.com/topic/sol-lewitt

    February 9, 2011 at 12:42 pm

  6. Tracie

    I enjoy this artist’s use of space. I think you would like another artist by the name of Amir Baradaran. You can check out his recent works through the links below.

    http://bit.ly/ibeI9C
    http://bit.ly/hmqnB9

    Have a lovely day!

    April 7, 2011 at 6:57 pm

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