A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about my visit to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art - MoCA, here. and here, where I promised a post about the work of Sol LeWitt, whose wall paintings recently went on exhibit there.
Following is a brief biography of the artist.
Sol LeWitt was born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1928, and attended Syracuse University. After serving in the Korean War as a graphic artist, he moved, in 1953, to New York, where he worked as a draftsman for the architect I. M. Pei. LeWitt had his first solo exhibition at the Daniels Gallery, New York, in 1965, and the following year Dwan Gallery, New York, mounted the first in a series of solo exhibitions. He participated, during the late 1960s and early 1970s, in several significant group exhibitions of Minimalist and Conceptual art, including "Primary Structures," at the Jewish Museum, New York, in 1966, and "When Attitude Becomes Form," at the Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland, in 1969. His renowned text "Paragraphs on Conceptual Art" was published in 1967. LeWitt's work was included in Documentas 6 (1977) and 7 (1982) in Kassel, as well as the 1987 Skulptur Projekte in Münster and the 1989 Istanbul Biennial. Major retrospectives of his works were organized by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1978, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, in 2000. "Drawing Series..." a presentation of LeWitt's early wall drawings was installed at Dia:Beacon in 2006. Sol LeWitt died on April 8, 2007 in New York City.
The Mass MoCA exhibit is a retrospective of the artist's famous wall drawings. The project was a collaboration between Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, in collaboration with the artist before his death in April 2007, and undertaken by the Gallery, MASS MoCA, and the Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts.
The retrospective spans 105 works by the artist from 1969 to 2007. The walls are installed in Studio 7, which is a 27,000 foot structure within the factory complex turned museum, and take up three stories. Designed specifically to accommodate the LeWitt art works and with input from the artist, the space will feature the exhibit for twenty-five years. New interior wall, stairways and walkways were built to facilitate the viewing of the exhibition between spaces and floors where the walls are displayed.
Mass MoCA is the perfect space for this multi-level exhibition. Previously, there was no place available that could accommodate so many wall drawings at once. If students and art lovers wanted to see LeWitts, they had to travel to many different museums and galleries, far apart from one another.
One of the most interesting aspects of LeWitt's work is that he drafted plans in the form of instructions and diagram for his wall drawings which were themselves the chief representations of his work, to be executed by others. In essense, the concept of the art over the actual process of it, dominates the work of Sol LeWitt. In 1968, when LeWitt began his wall drawings, this was considered radical in the art world.
In this collaboration the executors of the drawings themselves were done over a six month period and included twenty-two of LeWitt's senior assistants and thirty-three college students from Yale University, the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (a state college) in North Adams, Williams College, several local artists and graduate students from several colleges and universities around the country.
The exhibition was so rich with bold colors and patterns at times juxtaposed at varying angles.
Above is one of my favorites. I've looked at this photo again and agains since my visit. It's wonderful that these installations will be there for so long, as there is still much to discover in them on subsequent visits.
Detail of wall drawing