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Exhibition at the Alan Cristea Gallery celebrates the prints of Sol LeWitt and Richard Serra
Richard Serra, Paths and Edges 12, 2007 © 2007 Richard Serra and Gemini G.E.L.

LONDON.- The Alan Cristea Gallery celebrates the prints of two great American artists, Sol LeWitt (1928 - 2007) and Richard Serra (b. 1938), in two exhibitions that run concurrently from 14 February to 17 March 2018. Sol LeWitt: Colour will focuses on late prints by the artist. It is the first solo exhibition of graphic works by LeWitt to be shown in the UK, since his death over twenty years ago. Richard Serra: Black and White includes works from several recent prints series as well as six new black oil Paintstick editions which explore the properties of weight, balance and gravity. Through their ground-breaking and radical approaches, both artists went on to become prolific printmakers, using their chosen media to undermine our understanding of what constitutes an editioned work.

Printmaking became central to LeWitt’s practice in 1970. Over his lifetime he undertook 170 print projects, and was honoured with two print retrospectives, in 1974 at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and in 1986 at the Tate Gallery, London. The last solo presentation of LeWitt’s graphic works in London was in 2007. LeWitt believed in the primacy of the idea or concept in an artwork rather than its execution or outcome, turning works into a series of ideas that anyone could, in principle, carry out. The collaborative nature of printmaking was intrinsic to his working method.

The exhibition includes several print series incorporating both organic forms and basic shapes and colours which the artist uses to form complex relationships and patterns. Woodcuts, etchings and screenprints explore variations of what LeWitt describes, in his titles, as ‘straight’ and ‘not straight’ lines and evenly delineated ‘arcs’. Amongst these is Forms Derived from a Cube (Colors Superimposed), 1991, a set of twelve screenprints, depicting twenty-four of the countless possible forms within the structure of a cube and using different colours to describe each plane.

Few artists have pushed printmaking to such sculptural extremes as Richard Serra, who has been making prints for over 45 years.

His monumental and physical way of working serves to convey weight, stability and density. New works, such as Horizontal Reversals, 2017, are defined by the juxtaposition of two pieces of handmade paper framed together, that have each been divided by densely layered black pigment. This reversed composition offers a striking contrast between the weight of the black sections and the purity of the untouched white paper, as he explores the physical balance between light and dark.

The works are made using Paintstick, a combination of pigment, linseed oil, and melted wax. The mixture is moulded into large cylindrical sticks, then pressed down into a meat grinder and blended in an industrial dough mixer with silica. This is then applied in two layers, by a gloved hand, directly onto the handmade paper, pushing and rubbing in a downward direction. By layering the Paintstick, Serra asserts the physicality of the prints, which both absorb and reflect light, creating an overall matte, yet glistening, effect.

Sol LeWitt was born in 1928 in Hartford Connecticut, USA. After studying a bachelors degree in Fine Art at Syracuse University until 1949, 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. LeWitt participated in seminal group exhibitions including Primary Structures, Jewish Museum, New York, and 10, Dwan Gallery, New York, both in 1966, Documenta IV in 1968 and Harald Szeeman’s exhibition When Attitude Becomes Form, Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland and Institute of Contemporary Art, London, in 1969.

A major retrospective of Lewitt’s work was organised by the San Francisco Museum of Art in 2000 and then travelled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. His works are found in the most important museum collections including, Tate, London; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands; Musee National d’Art Moderne, Paris; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Australian National Gallery, Canberra; Guggenheim Museum, New York; MoMA, New York; Dia:Beacon, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington DC and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC.

Sol LeWitt died in New York in 2007.

Richard Serra was born in 1938 in San Francisco, California. He studied at the University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Santa Barbara; and Yale University, Connecticut where he worked with Josef Albers on Albers’ seminal book Interaction of Color. Serra’s bodies of work in sculpture and drawing have been celebrated with retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art twenty years apart: Richard Serra/Sculpture, in 1986 and Richard Serra Sculpture Forty Years, in 2007.

Other major recent exhibitions include the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain (1999); American Academy in Rome, Italy (2000); Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri (2003, 2014); Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Italy (2004); Richard Serra Drawings - Work Comes Out of Work, Kunsthaus Bregenz (2008); Promenade, Monumenta, Grand Palais, Paris (2008); Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2011, travelled to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California; and The Menil Collection, Houston, through 2012); Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, the Netherlands (2014); Prints, Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas (2017); Props, Films, Early Works, Museum Wiesbaden, Germany (2017); Films and Videotapes, Kunstmuseum Basel (2017); and Drawings 2015–2017, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2017). In 2005, The Matter of Time (1994–2005), a series of eight monumental sculptures, was installed at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. East-West/West-East (2014) was permanently installed in the desert of the Brouq Nature Reserve in western Qatar in 2014. Serra lives and works in New York and Nova Scotia.

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