When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.

——Sol LeWitt

Sol LeWitt was an American artist linked to various movements, including Conceptual art and Minimalism. He came to fame in the late 1960s with his wall drawings and “structures” (a term he preferred instead of “sculptures”) but was prolific in a wide range of media including drawing, printmaking, photography, painting, installation, and artist’s books. Having a comparatively long career, LeWitt received his BFA degree at Syracuse University in 1949, then he worked as a graphic designer for I.M Pei’s architecture office in New York. In 1960 LeWitt took a job at the Museum of Modern Art in New York at the book counter where his co-workers included Robert Ryman, Dan Flavin and Robert Mangold, situating him in the midst of young artists searching for a new direction in art. 

As one of the main figures of his time, LeWitt transformed the process of art-making by questioning the fundamental relationship between an idea, the subjectivity of the artist, and the artwork a given idea might produce. While many artists were challenging modern conceptions of originality, authorship, and artistic genius in the 1960s, LeWitt denied that approaches such as Minimalism, Conceptualism, and Process Art were merely technical or illustrative of philosophy. In his Paragraphs on Conceptual Art, LeWitt asserted that Conceptual art was neither mathematical nor intellectual but intuitive, given that the complexity inherent to transforming an idea into a work of art was fraught with contingencies. LeWitt’s art is not about the singular hand of the artist; it is the idea behind each work that surpasses the work itself.

LeWitt’s works are featured in many public collections worldwide, including Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Tate Modern, London, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, Hallen für Neue Kunst Schaffhausen, Switzerland, Guggenheim Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

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Sol LeWitt

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