Sol Lewitt Prints
“Artists teach critics what to think. Critics repeat what artists teach them.” - Sol LeWitt.
Sol LeWitt was born in Connecticut in 1928. His father was an inventor and doctor and his mother was a nurse. After his father’s death, he and his mother moved to his aunt’s place at Connecticut. LeWitt took art classes in Hartford. He graduated with his Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts from Syracuse University. The rebel that he was, LeWitt took up art initially only because he was not interested in the usual jobs in industries. It was only with his mother’s encouragement, he got a degree in fine arts. Though his college days didn’t begin well, towards the end, he became more involved and also won an award from Tiffany Foundation.
LeWitt served for a short while in Special Services during the Korean War after which he moved to New York. There he studied and simultaneously worked at Seventeen Magazine. He then moved on to become a graphic designer for an architecture company. LeWitt considered that art was also like an idea or a concept that could be laid down and expanded by someone else. In his words, “An architect doesn’t go out with a shovel and dig his foundation and lay every brick. He is still an artist.” He even told that art could be made even by a blind man if his ideas were transferred onto canvas by someone else. That is how different LeWitt’s perspective of art was.
LeWitt gave up his job to spend more time on art. He attended drawing classes. His subjects varied from still life to interiors to human figures. He even made sketches of other famous paintings. But his art works had not taken a set direction still. Later when he worked at the Museum of Modern Art, he got to meet several artists like Robert Rymann, Dan Flavin, Robert Mangold and Lucy Lippard. These encounters gave him his inspiration and direction.
LeWitt started including several moving figures in his art work. He then began to depend more on the color, textures and shapes. This was evident in his work, Wall Structure Blue. His interests to work in three dimensions then lead to the open structures in wood or metal, which were repeated according to specific permutations. LeWitt’s first solo exhibition was at John Daniel’s Gallery. There he displayed many complex open structures incorporating irregular shapes and angular walls to manipulate space. He was not satisfied though. So he began building measured structures, making him a pioneer in Conceptual art.
LeWitt’s art works mostly involved basic shapes incorporated according to some form of mathematical equations giving structures that were not predictable. According to him, the process of making an artwork itself was an art. LeWitt believed that art could exist without a meaning of its own. While most artists were taking up industrial materials for their art work, LeWitt chose to continue with conventional materials like canvas, wood etc. LeWitt felt that art was just a way of objectifying ideas. Thus according to him, art belongs to anyone who understands it. While most works of art try to emotionally connect with the viewer, LeWitt’s work of art, make the viewers think.
Truly LeWitt was one of his kind, an artist who gave an all new perspective to art and the way people looked at it.
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