Sol LeWitt's early sculptural works used geometric shapes, seriality and pre-determined structures to break away from the personal and emotive gestures of Abstract Expressionism. The artist’s numerous Wall Drawings employ systems which enable line to exist as an independent entity and take the form of a set of instructions which are then produced by assistants. His early works are characteristically monochrome, often articulated in charcoal and pencil, but LeWitt later introduced vibrant colour palettes into his practice.
The single room work included in ARTIST ROOMS, Wall Drawing #1136 2004, is a late example where coloured straight and non-straight lines, about twenty-two meters in length, are painted directly onto walls of a gallery space to create a three-dimensional environment which surrounds the viewer.
Sol LeWitt was one of the pioneers of Conceptual and Minimalist art during the 1960s, coining the term ‘conceptual art’ in 1967. He rejected the subjective and expressionistic art forms that dominated the mainstream during the 1950s and early 1960s in the United States and instead strove to privilege the idea.
In his famous Sentences on Conceptual Art written in 1969, LeWitt noted that, ‘Conceptual artists are mystics rather than rationalists. They leap to conclusions which logic cannot reach’, continuing, ‘Once the idea of the piece is established in the artist's mind and the final form is decided, the process is carried out blindly. There are many side effects that the artist cannot imagine. These may be used as ideas for new works’ (quoted in Harrison and Wood 2003, pp.849-51).
Sol LeWitt, ‘Sentences on Conceptual Art (May 1969)’ in Charles Harrison and Paul Wood (eds.), Art in Theory 1900-2000: An Anthology of Changing Ideas, Malden, MA 2003, pp.849-51.
Sol LeWitt Wall Drawing #1136
Curator Julie-Ann Delaney talks about Sol LeWitt's Wall Drawing #1136 and how it was installed in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Some of the team involved describe the challenges of the installation, and members of the public share their reactions to the work.