Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sol Lewitt

Sol Lewitt was an American who gained his fame in the 1960's as one of the founders of the Conceptualism and Minimalism art movements. His "structures" (as he preferred to call his three dimensional work) and wall drawings, along with most of his other work, largely consisted of geometric patterns, repetition of slight variations in patterns, and basic architecture; the cube being the basis and inspiration for many of his pieces. The sheer number of pieces he completed is astounding; over 1200 wall drawings alone were completed. I feel that his ability to execute so many pieces successfully could be attributed to the fact that he always had a plan laid out before hand so the creation of his piece went smoothly. Even with his later work based on seemingly random, curving lines in highly saturated colors was also planned with set guidelines. This artist instantly piqued my interest when I saw his work for the first time here recently. It was his use of vibrant colors in his later work that first caught my attention, and it was the geometry of his early work that held it. I hadn't seen so much color used in a sculpture, nor had I seen such a strict structure used in a piece. The open, but still stable, look of his other pieces allows you to see the essence of his work without "weighing it down" so to speak. Seeing his work allowed me to look at sculpture from a different view and appreciate the structure, discipline, and planning behind his work, something of which I could use more of. Below I've pasted another brief bio ( this time) as well as a link to an interview.

"LeWitt was born in Hartford, Connecticut to a family of Jewish immigrants from Russia. His mother took him to art classes at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford.[2] After receiving a BFA from Syracuse University in 1949, LeWitt traveled to Europe where he was exposed to Old Master painting. Shortly thereafter, he served in the Korean War, first in California, then Japan, and finally Korea. LeWitt moved to New York City in 1953 and set up a studio on the Lower East Side, in the old Ashkenazi Jewish settlement on Hester Street. During this time he studied at the School of Visual Arts while also pursuing his interest in design at Seventeen magazine, where he did paste-ups, mechanicals, and photostats. In 1955, he was a graphic designer in the office of architect I.M. Pei for a year. Around that time, LeWitt also discovered the work of the late 19th-century photographer Eadweard Muybridge, whose studies in sequence and locomotion were an early influence. These experiences, combined with an entry-level job as a night receptionist and clerk he took in 1960 at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, would influence LeWitt's later work.

At the MoMA, LeWitt’s co-workers included fellow artists Robert Ryman, Dan Flavin, and Robert Mangold. Curator Dorothy Canning Miller's now famous 1960 “Sixteen Americans” exhibition with work by Jasper Johns,Robert Rauschenberg, and Frank Stella created a swell of excitement and discussion among the community of artists with whom LeWitt associated. LeWitt also became friends with Hanne Darboven, Eva Hesse, andRobert Smithson.

LeWitt taught at several New York schools, including New York University and the School of Visual Arts, during the late 1960s. In 1980, LeWitt left New York for Spoleto, Italy. After returning to the United States in the late 1980s, LeWitt made Chester, Connecticut, his primary residence.[3] He died at age 78 in New York from cancer complications."

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