LeWitt x 2

  • Sep 9, 2007 – Dec 9, 2007
Installation view: Weatherspoon Art Museum, 2007.

The distinguished American artist Sol LeWitt is the focus of a two part exhibition that documents the arc of LeWitt’s career in Sol LeWitt: Structure and Line, while Selections from The LeWitt Collection showcases the artist’s personal collection, assembled with his wife, Carol Androccio LeWitt.

Renowned for his contributions to minimalism and conceptual art, Sol LeWitt is one of the most influential artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. His geometric sculptures, groundbreaking wall drawings, and colorful works on paper have defined and pushed the limits of art-making over the last 40 years. Concurrently, LeWitt has been a central figure in the international art world. He is credited as a force of encouragement and artistic integrity, not only because of his influential thoughts on conceptual art, but also for his sincere support of other artists and their work.

LeWitt was born to Russian immigrants. His father died when he was aged six and he was brought up by his mother and an aunt. He completed an art program at Syracuse University in 1949. LeWitt then spent two years in the US Army during the Korean War. In 1953 he moved to New York, just as abstract expressionism was gaining public recognition. He produced some 1,200 wall drawings throughout his career. The idea behind them was to merge the drawing with the architecture, and call into question ideas about permanence, value and conservation. Sol LeWitt died on April 8, 2007 in New York after complications from cancer. He was 78.

PART 1: Sol LeWitt: Structure and Line

This exhibition of the artist’s works includes 40 drawings, paintings, and three dimensional pieces, as well as a 16′ 11″ x 26′ wall drawing created specifically for the MMoCA presentation. The variety of work on view in Sol LeWitt: Structure and Line reveals the scope of LeWitt’s career. The exhibition includes drawings from as early as 1968 and as recently as 2005; structures (a term the artist prefers for his three-dimensional works), including examples of his “open cube” series which developed over several decades; and gouache paintings from 1986 to 2005. A group of new Scribble drawings will be on public view for the first time; in addition, the exhibition includes an early drawing from a landmark series that was the basis of the artist’s first wall drawing. LeWitt’s monumental wall drawings—produced for public and private spaces since the 1960s—may be the works for which he is best known. Executed by assistants, sometimes with local help, these works have evolved over the years to include monochromatic line drawings, bright geometric and curvilinear paintings, and—in the case of the work designed specifically for MMoCA—a subtle Scribble drawing.

PART 2: Selections from The LeWitt Collection

The collection of artworks acquired by Sol LeWitt and Carol Androccio LeWitt focuses on the period from 1960 to the present. With approximately 750 artists represented, the collection is renowned for its scope and breadth. By recognizing, collecting, and preserving the works of contemporaries and younger emerging artists, the LeWitts have encouraged individuals, while also contributing to public interest in the conceptual art movement.

Many of the works in the LeWitt collection were gifts or trades from artist friends, including a number of key works from the early years of the conceptual art movement. Over the years, Sol LeWitt’s renown led to contacts with artists in other countries; by the 1970s, the collection had taken on a distinctly international character, including many important works by artists associated with the Arte Povera movement. Since LeWitt’s marriage to Carol Androccio in 1982, the couple has collaborated in overseeing the growth and direction of the collection.

Among the approximately 100 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, and photographs included in Selections from The LeWitt Collection are works by Carl Andre, Alyce Acock, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Jan Dibbets, Jackie Ferrara, Gilbert and George, Eva Hesse, Donald Judd, Alex Katz, Robert Mangold, Brice Marden, Mario Merz, Robert Ryman, Pat Steir, and many other esteemed artists.

 

Guest Curator and Essayist

Dean Swanson, guest curator for LeWitt x 2 and author of two essays in the exhibition catalogue, is an independent curator and art consultant who lives in Minneapolis. He has organized numerous exhibitions, many for the Walker Art Center, where he was chief curator from 1968 to 1978, and at the Minnesota Museum of American Art in St. Paul, where he served as director for three years. He has worked with artists including Joan Miró, Jean Dubuffet, Robert Motherwell, and Robert Rauschenberg.

Martin Friedman, who has contributed an essay to the exhibition catalogue, has lived in New York since retiring as Director Emeritus of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, in 1990. During his more than thirty-five years at the Walker, it became known as one of America’s premier museums for collecting, exhibiting, and publishing contemporary visual art. An active author and curator, he recently published “Close Reading: Chuck Close and the Art of the Self-Portrait.”

LeWitt x 2, was organized by the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA). A full-color catalogue for LeWitt x 2 will be available, and was published by MMoCA, includes essays by Dean Swanson, guest curator for the exhibition, and by Martin Friedman, director emeritus of the Walker Art Center.

 

 

 

Generous funding for LeWitt x 2 has been provided by the Steinhauer Charitable Trust; J.H. Findorff & Son Inc.; Peggy Hedberg and John Niederhuber; John Neis and Chele Isaac; the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission with additional funds from the Endres Mfg. Company Foundation and the Overture Foundation; the Terry Family Foundation; the Art League of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art; and a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin.

Special funding for the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art’s presentation of a Sol LeWitt wall drawing has been provided by James and Sylvia Vaccaro, and the Theda Clark Smith Family Foundation.

 

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