Project 06
Sol
Lewitt

Project Summary

In 1967, Sol LeWitt famously coined the term ‘conceptual art’, a pivotal event in the changing environment of art in the 1960s. With a focus on seriality in both form and process, his compositions were expressed through a variety of media, from drawing and painting to artists’ books, multiples, furniture, ceramics, photographs, prints and structures. In 1968 LeWitt created his first wall drawing for an exhibition at Paula Cooper Gallery in New York. A revolutionary break with the conventions of the time, it recalled the frescoes of Italian art history and invented an architectural format for his investigations. John Kaldor invited LeWitt to Australia to make wall drawings for Project 6 in 1977, at Sydney’s Art Gallery of New South Wales and Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria.


The wall drawing for the Art Gallery of New South Wales, All two part combinations of arcs from four corners, arcs from four sides, straight, not-straight broken lines in four directions, involved combinations of 20 different types of curved, straight, ‘not-straight’ and broken lines, and 190 variations on their combination, marked out across the 10 x 31 metre south wall of the entrance gallery. It was the largest single artwork ever displayed at the gallery and the largest work LeWitt had completed to date. From a simple design and equation a multitude of forms were invented.


At the National Gallery of Victoria, a 3 x 12 metre wall was divided into four equal panels and coloured yellow, red, blue and black. Within the coloured squares, straight lines of white chalk were drawn out from set points, intersecting with each other to create patterns and geometric collisions. The work’s title describes its construction: Lines to points on a grid. On yellow: Lines from the center of the wall. On red: Lines from four sides. On blue: Lines from four corners. On black: Lines from four sides, four corners and the center of the wall.


One of the most influential artists of his generation, LeWitt created an austere, minimalist vocabulary derived from geometric shapes and their linear components. Working in a variety of media, these forms were subjected to an ongoing series of rules and investigations over the artist’s 40-year career. A unique and important part of his work, LeWitt created more than 1200 wall drawings in different sites and locations around the world.

Wall Drawings


All two part combinations of arcs from four corners, arcs from four sides, straight, not-straight broken lines in four directions.
 
March – July 1977
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

Lines to points on a grid. On yellow: Lines from the center of the wall. On red: Lines from four sides. On blue: Lines from four corners. On black: Lines from four sides, four corners and the center of the wall.
March – April 1977
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

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Sol LeWittBack to top

Coining the term ‘conceptual art’, Sol LeWitt is considered one of the most influential artists of his time. From 1968 to 2007, Lewitt created 1200 wall drawings, reducing his art-making process to a bare vocabulary of lines, curves, geometric shapes and primary colours. These works were distinctive for their method which began with a set of instructions or a simple diagram, executed by people other than the artist at different times and places. LeWitt once wrote ‘ideas can be works of art’ giving greater importance to the idea behind his work rather than it’s execution.

Education KitBack to top

Designed for both the 6th and the 11th Kaldor Public Art Projects, this Education Kit examines Sol Lewitt’s conceptual artmaking practice and his pioneering influence on the international art world.

LEARNING STAGES: Senior secondary (Stages 5-6) | Tertiary

CONTENTS: Introduction | Artist bio | Project: 1977 | Project: 1998 | World events 1977 | World events 1998 | Theme: conceptual art | Art Gallery of NSW Collection connections | Selected references | Issues for discussion