Sol LeWitt

Dafato Team | Jan 16, 2024

Table of Content


Solomon "Sol" LeWitt (; Hartford, September 9, 1928 - New York, April 8, 2007) was an American artist associated with various movements, including conceptual art and minimalism.

He was born in Hartford, Connecticut, to a family of Russian Jewish immigrants. His mother encouraged his artistic gifts by allowing him to take a course at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford. In 1949, after earning a BFA from Syracuse University, he traveled to Europe where he studied live paintings by the great masters. Beginning in 1950 he served in the Korean War, first in California, then in Japan and finally in Korea.

In 1953 he moved to New York and opened a studio on the Lower East Side, in the old Ashkenazi Jewish settlement on Hester Street. During this time he studied at the School of Visual Arts and worked at Seventeen magazine.

In 1955 he worked for a year as a graphic designer in the studio of architect Ieoh Ming Pei. During the same period, he became acquainted with the work of the late nineteenth-century photographer Eadweard Muybridge, whose studies of sequence and locomotion were one of his earliest influences. These experiences, combined with an entry-level job as a night receptionist and clerk held in 1960 at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, had a major impact on the artist's later work. At MoMA, LeWitt's colleagues include such artists as Robert Ryman, Dan Flavin, Gene Beery, and Robert Mangold, and future art critic and writer Lucy Lippard.

In 1960, the now well-known exhibition "Sixteen Americans" (curated by Dorothy Canning Miller, with work by Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Frank Stella) creates a wave of excitement and discussion in the artist community that marks LeWitt. LeWitt also becomes friends with Hanne Darboven, Eva Hesse, and Robert Smithson.

During the late 1960s he taught at several schools in New York City, including New York University and the School of Visual Arts.

In 1970, he left New York for Spoleto, Italy, located his studio in the historic center and settled on the slopes of Monteluco, first in a hermitage owned by Marilena Bonomo, later in a tower house purchased near the church of San Pietro. After returning to the United States in the late 1980s he sets up his main residence in Chester, Connecticut.

He died in 2007 in New York, at the age of 78, of cancer.

He achieved fame in the late 1960s through his Wall drawings and "structures" (a term he preferred to "sculptures") but was prolific in a wide range of media including drawing, printmaking, photography, painting, installation, and artist's books.

Since 1965, he has been the subject of hundreds of solo exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world. The first biography of the artist, "Sol LeWitt: A Life of Ideas," by Lary Bloom, was published by Wesleyan University Press in spring 2019 .


In the early 1960s, he began creating his "structures," a term he used to describe his three-dimensional work: these are open, modular structures originating from the cube, a form that has influenced the artist's thinking since the beginning of his career. The "structures" have as their fundamental unit the proportions of the human body, which is why many come to approximately eye level. After creating an initial body of works consisting of hand-lacquered wooden objects, in the mid-1960s he decided to "remove the skin altogether and reveal the structure" by making cubic works consisting of twelve equal linear elements connected at the eight corners to form a skeletal structure.

It has been making many of its large-scale modular structures in aluminum or steel since 1969.

In 1985 the first concrete cube was made in a park in Basel.

Beginning in the mid-1980s, he composed some of his sculptures made from stacked concrete blocks. From 1990 onward he made multiple variations of them.

Since the late 1990s, the artist has been moving away from his well-known linear geometric vocabulary and replaced by a growing interest in irregular curvilinear forms in highly saturated colors.

Wall drawings

In 1968, he began to devise a series of guidelines or simple diagrams for his two-dimensional works drawn directly on the wall, executed first in graphite, then in pastel, then in colored pencil, and finally chromatically rich dyes in India ink, bright acrylic paint and other materials. Since he created artwork for the inaugural Paula Cooper Gallery exhibition in 1968, an exhibition to benefit the Student Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, thousands of LeWitt's drawings have been installed directly on wall surfaces.

Moving to Spoleto, Italy, in the late 1970s, he attributed his shift from graphite pencil or pastel to vivid ink brushstrokes to his encounter with the frescoes of Giotto, Masaccio and other early Florentine painters. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, he created wall drawings in highly saturated colored acrylic. While their shapes are curvilinear, playful and seem almost random, they are also drawn according to a precise set of guidelines. The bands have a standard width, for example, and no colored section can touch another section of the same color.

The wall drawings are usually done by people other than the artist himself. Even after his death, people continue to create these drawings. He would then eventually use teams of assistants to create such works. Writing about making wall drawings, the artist noted in 1971 that "each person draws a line differently and each person understands words differently." Between 1968 and his death in 2007, he created more than 1,270 wall drawings. The wall drawings, executed on site, generally exist for the duration of an exhibition; they are then destroyed, giving the work in its physical form an ephemeral quality. They can be installed, removed and then reinstalled in another location as often as necessary for exhibition purposes. When moved to another location, the number of walls can change only by ensuring that the proportions of the original diagram are maintained.


In the 1980s, particularly after a trip to Italy, he began using gouache, a water-based opaque paint, to produce free-flowing abstract works in contrasting colors. These represented a significant departure from the rest of his practice, as he created these works with his own hands. The gouaches are often created in series based on a specific motif. Earlier series have included irregular shapes, parallel curves, undulating brushstrokes and web-like grids.

Artist's books

Since 1966, the artist's interest in seriality led to his production of more than 50 artist's books during his career; he later donated many examples to the Wadsworth Athenaeum library.

In 1976 he helped found Printed Matter, Inc. a for-profit art space in New York City's Tribeca neighborhood with fellow artists and critics. Printed Matter was one of the first organizations dedicated to the creation and distribution of artists' books, incorporating self-publishing, small press publishing and artist networks and collectives. For LeWitt and others, it also served as a support system for avant-garde artists, balancing its role as publisher, exhibition space, commercial space, and community center for the downtown art scene, in this sense emulating the network of aspiring artists that LeWitt knew and enjoyed as a staff member of the Museum of Modern Art.


  1. Sol LeWitt
  2. Sol LeWitt
  3. ^ McNay, Michael. "Obituary: Sol LeWitt: American artist whose treatment of forms and colours defied critical analysis". The Guardian, April 11, 2007. Accessed April 17, 2011.
  4. ^ Sol Lewitt, su
  5. ^ Settimanale Tgr Rai - Sol Lewitt e Spoleto, su, 22 febbraio 2016. URL consultato il 9 marzo 2016.
  6. ^ Cecilia Metelli, Oltre il Festival dei Due Mondi: le mostre, alcuni dei protagonisti e il loro rapporto con gli artisti attivi a Spoleto negli anni settanta, in Spoleto Contemporanea, 2016, p. 14. URL consultato il 21 marzo 2016 (archiviato dall'url originale il 3 aprile 2016).
  7. ^ Adachiara Zevi,, L'Italia nei WALL DRAWINGS di Sol LeWitt, Milano, Mondadori Electa, 2012.
  8. (en) Lois Kernaghan, Marilyn Smulders, Daniel Baird, « Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University », sur, L'Encyclopédie canadienne, 9 décembre 2016 (consulté le 14 octobre 2022).
  9. (en) Jayne Wark, « Conceptual Lithography at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design », Journal of Canadian Art History, no 30,‎ 2009, p. 71.
  10. Int. NY Times: Sol LeWitt, American master of conceptual art, dies at 78.
  11. NRC: De kubus werd zijn handelsmerk

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