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Sol LeWitt exhibition

One of the most influential American artists of his generation

Sol LeWitt Wall drawing #1091: arcs, circles and bands (room) 2003, painted room on 4 walls, Art Gallery of New South Wales © Estate of Sol LeWitt, ARS, licensed by Viscopy

Sol LeWitt (1928-2007) – a pioneer of conceptual art – forged a new way of thinking about making art. For LeWitt, the idea was paramount. This new exhibition, Sol LeWitt: Your mind is exactly at that line, looks at 40 years of his practice and includes four new wall drawings, three of which will be created in Australia for the first time.

LeWitt’s monumental wall drawings, of which there are over 1200, have captivated audiences all over the world. His wall drawings and structures are made from instructions written by LeWitt, highlighting the importance of the idea over the artist’s hand. Not unlike a musical score, which is open to the appreciation of those who perform it, LeWitt’s instructions embrace interpretation and chance. His is a logical and rational system of creation that nonetheless can result in works of breathtaking beauty and elegance.

This exhibition includes for the first time one of his unrealised 'concrete structures’ and a comprehensive selection of works on paper which reveal the major developments in his work. The display concludes with one of his final ‘scribble’ drawings of 2006 – a dense collection of tiny irregular pencil lines from which emerges a horizon line. This work will be made from directions left by the artist and will take more than 25 days and three assistants to realise. Two specialist LeWitt assistants will be travelling from Helsinki and Berlin to oversee the creation of the wall drawings.

In response to the gestures of abstract expressionism and the simple forms of minimalism, LeWitt developed his own visual language. He was not interested in imagery or narrative allusions but in the concept. In a landmark essay of 1967 entitled ‘Paragraphs on conceptual art’, he wrote: 'In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work’. He chose a square, for instance, because it was the ‘least emotive’ of forms. Lines, squares and cubes: these are some of the basic principles of geometry upon which his art is based. Despite his systematic working methods, LeWitt’s art materialised in unforeseen and surprising ways, often, as in the case of the site-specific wall drawings, with exhilarating outcomes.

LeWitt is renowned for his generous spirit and supported many artists during his life. His vast personal collection amassed through purchases, gifts and exchanges includes 30 Indigenous Australian artworks that were gifts from the Australian philanthropist John Kaldor. For the first time in Australia, this exhibition places LeWitt’s work with that of Indigenous artists Emily Kam Ngwarray and Gloria Tamerre Petyarre and includes correspondence in which LeWitt describes his deep admiration for Ngwarray’s work and her use of line. The works by Ngwarray and Petyarre in this exhibition are drawn from LeWitt’s personal collection in Carver, Connecticut, USA and were a source of inspiration for LeWitt’s own practice.

The John Kaldor Family Collection, now part of the Art Gallery of New South Wales collection, forms the foundation of this exhibition, along with significant loans from the Collection of Naomi Milgrom AO in Melbourne, the LeWitt Collection, Chester, CT, USA and other public and private collections in Australia and abroad. The Gallery is grateful for the assistance of Sofia LeWitt and Janet Passehl, curator of the Sol LeWitt Collection, along with John Kaldor, for their cooperation in realising this major exhibition of LeWitt’s work in Australia.

Sol LeWitt: Your mind is exactly at that line is curated by Natasha Bullock, curator, contemporary art, Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Contemporary art with UBS

On view
20 Feb – 3 Aug 2014
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney


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Susanne Briggs
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