Sol LeWitt died on Sunday

Monday 9 April 2007

I learned about Sol LeWitt’s art at about the same time I first heard Philip Glass‘ music, which was appropriate given that the two worked together on several occasions in the 1970s (the photo above is from his cover design for Glass’ LP Music in 12 Parts, Parts 1 & 2).
The New York Times has an obituary (use Bugmenot if you’re asked to register) which attempts to explain the appeal of his drawings which were conceived as simple sets of instructions for someone else to execute:
Sometimes these plans derived from a logical system, like a game; sometimes they defied logic so that the results could not be foreseen, with instructions intentionally vague to allow for interpretation. Characteristically, he would then credit assistants or others with the results…. he always gave his team wiggle room, believing that the input of others — their joy, boredom, frustration or whatever — remained part of the art.

This doesn’t really capture the real impression these drawings first made on me: the realisation that a work of visual art could be made, and appreciated, in the same way as a piece of music. The plans simultaneously governed the form and determined the detail of the finished drawing, and the finished interpretation could be enjoyed for the individual nuances contained within the realisation of an abstract concept. (This also means I don’t care how joyous or bored those assistants were.)

Crown Point Press has a selection of LeWitt’s prints reproduced online. You can read LeWitt’s Sentences on Conceptual Art or, if you prefer, have John Baldessari sing them for you.