MASS MoCA + Sol Lewitt

posted by – 09/09/14 @ 1:20pm

On this day, It seemed nothing short of appropriate to compose a blog post about artist Sol Lewitt, celebrating not only his personhood but also his career, one that continues to make strides in the art world today. Born 86 years ago today, Lewitt became a modern pioneer in the realms of Minimalism and early Conceptual art. The key to understanding the artists body of work is to remember that the focus is not so much on the execution and final product, but on the idea. He became in creakingly controversial due to the fact that many of the works were temporal and often executed not only by Sol himself, but also by a team that carried out written instructions of how the work was to be created. This yielded beautiful inconsistencies that contributed to a well structured overall work. This would become the statement of LeWitt, imprinting this process into the history of modern art.

In an effort to pay homage to the visionary work of LeWitt, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in partnership with other prestigious institutions is hosting an exhibition that will run until 2033. Yes. 25 Years.

MASS MoCA Director Joseph C. Thompson comments, “With this exhibition, Sol LeWitt has left an amazing gift for us all. Great art draws upon previous artists, but also contradicts and contravenes. And the most essential art argues for new ways of seeing, even as it is almost immediately absorbed into the work that surrounds and supersedes it. As I believe is evident in this landmark exhibition, LeWitt’s wall drawings rise to those highest of standards. This amazing collection of works is on long-term view as a sort of proton at the center of our museum around which our program of changing exhibitions and performances will orbit with even more energy.” (

Like the art on display, a gesture such as this makes a statement about the lasting impact of certain works and the urgency to see them preserved and appreciated by the public. Just as the first pieces created by Lewitt himself, all of these drawings began as a set of instructions and evolved into something that reflects the often unobserved collective experience to making art.

As the exhibition makes clear, these straightforward instructions yield an astonishing — and stunningly beautiful — variety of work that is at once simple and highly complex, rigorous and sensual. “The drawings in the exhibition range from layers of straight lines meticulously drawn in black graphite pencil lead, to rows of delicately rendered wavy lines in colored pencil; from bold black-and-white geometric forms, to bright planes in acrylic paint arranged like the panels of a folding screen; from sensuous drawings created by dozens of layers of transparent washes, to a tangle of vibratory orange lines on a green wall, and much more. Forms may appear to be flat, to recede in space, or to project into the viewer’s space, while others meld to the structure of the wall itself.” (

Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective

Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective

Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective

A unique exhibition such as this is a rare find in a world that is constantly moving forward onto the next thing. Perhaps not even LeWitt himself would have imagined that it would be his work that would challenge viewers to slow down; to observe; to think. In remembrance of Sol and the many contributions of his career, there could be nothing more fitting than an installation that will last for years to come.

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