Sol LeWitt helped establish Conceptualism and Minimalism as the dominant art movements of the postwar era. A patron and friend of colleagues young and old, he was the opposite of the artist as celebrity. He tried to suppress all interest in him as opposed to his work; he turned down awards and was camera-shy and reluctant to grant interviews.
Sol LeWitt was born in Hartford, Connecticut 1in 1928 and studied at Syracuse University, receiving a BFA.
He began making simple geometric paintings in series, which became the basis of his art. In the early 1960’s, he extended these ideas to three- dimensional wooden forms or “structures.” Bothered by their inconsistencies, he stripped the wooden skin off these structures to reveal the sculpture’s skeletal core. He also developed a prescribed ratio that he followed, which determined the amount of open space versus the amount of support structure in each piece. This focus on highly conceptual relationships, with increasing complexity and variation, has continued to guide his work as a sculptor.
In the 1960’s, LeWitt made open modular white cubes that are seminal works in the history of Minimalism. Using mathematical systems LeWitt emphasized the conceptual basis of art in direct opposition to the expressiveness and gesture identified with the work of the Abstract Expressionists.
The cube provided a particularly rich form for this kind of exploration and has been the focus of his attention for decades. He has been equally concerned with expanding the parameters of two-dimensional work, creating drawings and paintings that are applied directly to the wall and that transform entire architectural environments.
In the 1970’s, LeWitt introduced architectural scale works, Wall Drawings, based on verbal proposals or systems suggested by LeWitt but executed by others. In the 1980’s the Wall Drawings became more expressive with sensual color applied to various permutations of geometric shapes. In the past decade, LeWitt has used undulating waves and swirling bands of color that are hot, bold and highly decorative.
Courtesy: D. McLachlan