This summer M-Museum Leuven
(Belgium) is organizing Sol LeWitt. Colors, a unique overview of the wall drawings by the American conceptual artist Sol LeWitt (1928-2007). A selection of over twenty wall drawings in color span LeWitts career, from the earliest drawings in fine pencil to his late works in acrylic paint. Conceived through instructions and diagrams, the monumental works are executed directly on the walls by professionally trained drafters from the LeWitt studio and local assistants. This exhibition constitutes the largest ensemble of LeWitts wall drawings ever on view in Belgium. In conjunction with this exhibibtion, Centre Pompidou-Metz presents a retrospective exhibition of LeWitt wall drawings in black and white.
Reminiscent of the fresco tradition of the Italian Renaissance, from the late 1960s, Sol LeWitt's wall drawings marked a decisive development in the history of contemporary drawing in particular, and of art in general. Expressing thought processes which the artist conceived beforehand, the wall drawings are executed directly onto the walls on the scale of the exhibition venue. These wall drawings, executed on-site, exist for the duration of the exhibition; they are then destroyed, giving the work in its physical form an ephemeral quality. Its content (or concept) remains however identical from one exhibition to the next.
LeWitt conceived the drawings to be executed by people other than himself. Professional assistants trained by the LeWitt studio, and drafters new to the process, are brought in to precisely follow LeWitt's instructions and diagrams. His wall drawings are based on - a basic visual vocabulary of elementary geometric forms - straight, not straight, and broken lines, squares, arcs, circles, grids, etc. - which expanded towards more irregular, complex forms such as curves, loops and isometric figures; - a range of diverse techniques using pencil, crayon, India ink, acrylic paint and graphite.
The artist never ceased to explore every possible combination of closed systems - the notion of the infinite was never part of his work - in which the repetition of forms and modules is conceived as a narrative in its own right.
The wall drawings shown at M have been executed to the artists precise instructions by trained drafters from the LeWitt studio, assisted by around 50 local young artists and students from the following Belgian art schools: Hogeschool Sint-Lukas, Brussels; La Cambre / École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Visuels, Brussels; Koninklijke Academie voor Schone Kunsten | KASK, Gent; Sint-Lucas Beeldende Kunst Gent; Koninklijke Academie voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp; and Sint Lucas, Antwerp.
Exhibition in M
The exhibition takes place in four large consecutive galleries, each focusing on one of the four media adopted by LeWitt for his works in color: pencil, crayon, India ink, and acrylic paint. Similarly to the techniques and forms that LeWitt explored, colors are used conceptually, as another variable in the artists geometric systems. A fifth gallery will introduce LeWitts use of black and white with two emblematic works featuring lines in four directions and an isometric figure derived from a cube.
The first gallery features wall drawings in colored pencil from the late 1960s to the early 1970s. Fine lines in primary colors are repeated separately, or gradually superimposed, leading to secondary colors. While several works fit inside vast squares, other drawings cover the entire surface of the wall evenly.The second gallery shows wall drawings in crayon from the 1970s to the early 1980s. LeWitts formal vocabulary evolves to include large painted areas of color (always based on the three primary colors of yellow, red, and blue) incorporating simple geometric shapes. In other crayon works, the artists principle of collaboration extends to allow his drafters to determine the position of given elements. The third gallery presents two works executed in ink washes. Using this technique, reminiscent of Renaissance frescos, LeWitt creates complex hues through repeated applications of yellow, red, blue, and gray inks (primary colors are superimposed directly on the wall rather than mixed beforehand).The fourth gallery, with an extraordinary ceiling height of 7 meters (23 feet), is set aside for a single work which runs over three walls. Wall Drawing # 867 (1998), combines new variables in the artists systems: saturated colors in acrylic paint, wavy lines, and glossy varnish, as the instructions read: "A wall divided vertically into six equal parts, yellow; purple; blue; orange; red; and green. The wall is divided horizontally in two parts by a wavy line. The top is flat; the bottom is glossy."
Curators Sol LeWitt. Colors are Eva Wittocx (chief curator, M-Museum Leuven) and Béatrice Gross (independent curator, New York and curator of Sol LeWitt. Wall drawing from 1968 to 2007 at the Centre Pompidou-Metz).