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Sol Lewitt @ MoMA 

   
 

The Writing is on the Wall!

   

 

  

 

Perhaps it is part of the collective unconscious - this impulse to draw on walls.  Some strange combination of self-expression and the desire to mark territory.  The impulse goes back to Lascaux, reaches an apogee in Italian Renaissance frescoes, and continues with graffiti art today.  The wall, barrier or protection, is now also a canvas.

Minimalist Sol Lewitt contributed to the storied history of this ancient artform by producing some 1,200 wall drawings.  MoMA currently has on view the very large Drawing #260, subtitled, "on black walls, all two-part combinations of white arcs from corners and sides, and white straight, not-straight, and broken lines.

Lewitt played with the idea of visual rhythm and serial systems.  The artist as composer, the painting as score, the art-assistants the musicians.  In Drawing #260, the composition consists of four basic geometric elements of arcs and lines.  They are combined following instructions set down by Lewitt, but the formulas are flexible and the painting is interpreted slightly differently each time it is recreated by a team of assistants.  Perhaps the closest art has come to music….

The use of black-and-white is particularly interesting as many of Lewitt's minimalist and conceptualist drawings are colorful and lively: bold stars, geometric shapes, or Rorschach-like bursts of color.  LeWitt noted, "The black wall gives a feeling of enclosure.  The white lines maintain their grid and by changing offer clues to the system.  The plan is always presented so that the viewer will know that the changes are not capricious but systematic, becoming a language and a narrative of shapes."  The painting itself is like a large blackboard filled with beautiful abstract formulae. Time to stop at MoMA for a math lesson! 

 

 
See: Focus: Sol Lewitt, MoMA 

 

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