Sol LeWitt Here + There

One of the most fascinating aspects of a Sol LeWitt Wall Drawing is that it can never be the same from one exhibit to another.

Every time a Wall Drawing is put on display, a group of draftsmen paint or draw a new interpretation of the piece.  In following Conceptual Art, when the idea behind the art takes precedence over the actual piece of artwork, LeWitt writes a set of directions of how to create each piece of artwork.  The directions drive the art process.

Before creating the new piece, wherever the Wall Drawing is currently located must be painted over so it no longer exists in that setting.  Even if MASS MoCA wanted to relocate one of our Wall Drawings, the artwork cannot be moved, it must be repainted in the new space.

Only one official interpretation of a Wall Drawing can exist at one time; once the previous one has been painted over, the draftsmen are free to start their work.  The draftsmen then use LeWitt’s directions to create their interpretation.  However, every draftsman and every space is different, meaning that each time a Sol LeWitt is put on display, it is inherently unique.

Check out how varied, and at times similar, Sol LeWitt Wall Drawings can be even when they are rooted in the same directions!

Wall Drawing 146A at MASS MoCA. ¬†The “A” in 146A refers to the original (146) being white wall with blue crayon and this piece having blue walls with white crayon.

146 at the Guggenheim in NYC in 1972.

Wall Drawing 289 at MASS MoCA (on the left)

Wall Drawing 289 at the Whitney in 1976


Wall Drawing 386 at MASS MoCA

Wall Drawing 386 at Massimo De Carlo in Milan, Italy. ¬† Notice that at MASS MoCA each star is separated in black squares, while at Massimo De Carlo they all are supported by the same black background. The directions ¬†say “an India ink wash outside,” leaving such decisions up to the draftsmen.


Wall Drawing 391 at MASS MoCA

Wall Drawing 391 at Musée d’Art Contemporain de Bordeaux, France in 1983. The space provides a very different effect.


Wall Drawing 681C at MASS MoCA

Wall Drawing 681C at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC


Wall Drawing 692 at MASS MoCA

Wall Drawing 692 at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale.  How do you think people look differently at art when it is in a gallery versus a space like a hospital?

Wall Drawing 766 at MASS MoCA

Wall Drawing 766 at SF MoMA in 2000. There’s a clear variation of the color ink washes!

Wall Drawing 792 at MASS MoCA

Wall Drawing 792 at the Gladstone Gallery. ¬†The directions to this piece simply calls for “Black rectangles and squares,” allowing great range in interpretation. ¬†It’s incredible how different the piece is on a plain wall compared to when it accentuates a room’s architecture.

Wall Drawing 793B at MASS MoCA

Wall Drawing 793C at the Wadsworth Atheneum.  COOL! We love the variation here.

Wall Drawing 821A at MASS MoCA.  Look closely and you can tell that there is white paint on this wall.

Wall Drawing 821 at the MCA Chicago. Grass definitely serves as a different canvas than a plaster wall!

Wall Drawing 901 at MASS MoCA.

Wall Drawing 901 at the Bonnefantenmuseum Maastricht in the Netherlands.

Wall Drawing 1005 at MASS MoCA.

Wall Drawing 1005 at PROA in Buenos Aires, Brazil in 2001.

Wall Drawing 1152 at MASS MoCA. Subtitled “Whirls and Twirls,” very fitting.

Whirls and Twirls at the Rooftop Garden at the Met in NYC in 2005.

In our Sol LeWitt retrospective, we have two Wall Drawings that he never saw beyond the point of conception. ¬†LeWitt passed away in 2007, having already written the directions for these pieces, but our draftsmen didn’t start work until 2008. ¬†The following two Wall Drawings, as part of his Scribble Drawings series, have only ever existed on the walls at MASS MoCA!

Wall Drawing 1260 at MASS MoCA. “Scribble: Square without a square.”

Wall Drawing 1261 at MASS MoCA.  Like all of his Scribble Drawings, it consists of layers upon layers upon layers of scribbles to create the tone gradation.

 By Linnea DiPillo

Posted December 21, 2011 by MASS MoCA
Filed under An Exchange with Sol LeWitt, BLOG

Digg | | Technorati | Blinklist | Furl | reddit

5 Comments on “Sol LeWitt Here + There”

  1. Daniel Becker Says:

    Great job in assembling all these. It might be worth publishing…….

  2. MASS MoCA Says:

    We were surprised at what a challenge it was to find these images! Thanks for the kudos.

  3. amy whitfield Says:

    “How do you think people look differently at art when it is in a gallery versus a space like a hospital?”
    Good question,it is the whole concept of an ‘art gallery’. It has, in a way been defined as a place of meaning or a space of question and mystery; an idea of beauty, and by that i don’t just mean aesthetics, whether scrutinized or not it has almost been drilled into us that as soon as we enter an ‘art gallery’ we HAVE to view its contents independently from the ‘outside world’ in an attempt to wipe away preconceptions and focus on one particular (possibly, neglected) subject the artist has given, and maybe granting you more (or less) of an understanding of ‘it’.

  4. Paintings Says:

    All wall drawing looks very interesting and have the unique and different look, though I loved all but the ‚ÄúBlack rectangles and squares, are awesome and I agreed that is ‚ÄĚ allows the great range in interpretation. Thanks to share this great blog.

  5. RC Says:

    I’m currently at the hospital (duaghter born) just south of the grass wall painting at the Chicago MCA. Thanks for posting such a great overview of the concept behind this process. We’ve been enjoying this piece for the past few days, and wondered who it was by and its lifespan. One interesting note: last night there was a wedding ceremony on the lawn and ontop of this piece! How cool and unique of an experience.

Leave a Comment

HTML Cheat Sheet
Bold: <strong>Text</strong>
Italic <em>Text</em>
Link: <a href="http://url" target="_blank">Link</a>