521 W 21st Street
NEW YORK—An exhibition of large gouaches by the preeminent American artist Sol LeWitt will open at 521 West 21st Street on November 3rd, 2018. Painted between 1992 and 2005, the selection illuminates the breadth and playful dynamism of the artist’s work in this medium. The exhibition will be on view through December 15th, 2018.
Known primarily for his wall drawings as well as his many variations of open cube structures, Sol LeWitt created important works on paper throughout his career. Beginning in the 1980s, the artist expanded the visual vocabulary of his practice—which had been defined by basic geometric forms and sets of rules—to include multifaceted shapes, increased spatial depth, isometric projection, and tonally complex colors. By the 1990s LeWitt moved to even more open-ended methods of composition, employing gouache, an opaque water-based paint, to produce free-flowing abstract works in contrasting hues. In 1992, his drawings were the subject of a major traveling exhibition organized by the Haags Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, Netherlands.
Produced in monumental scale, the works on view in Sol LeWitt: Large Gouaches are based on specific motifs, such as Tangled Bands, and Squiggly or Wavy Brushstrokes. These exuberant and loosely rendered compositions represent a significant departure from the rest of LeWitt’s practice, creating them with his own hands rather than through programmatic strategies executed by draftsmen. The kaleidoscopic Wavy Vertical Brushstrokes, 1995, obfuscates regimented directives as its undulating lines gradually shift course across the picture plane. With a palette of colors ranging from deep reds to bright yellows, ultramarine blues and olive greens, its layers of pulsating brushstrokes carefully balance a sense of limitless activity with structured containment. Similarly, the variable pattern of Irregular Grid, 2000, twists the basic linear grid into a complex web of winding branches. Nevertheless, its schematic foundation remains visible, aligning the work with LeWitt’s broader artistic intent.
Sol LeWitt (1928 – 2007) was born in Hartford, Connecticut and graduated from Syracuse University in 1949. In 1953 he moved to New York where his work was first publicly exhibited in 1963 at St. Mark’s Church. His first one-person show was at the John Daniels Gallery in New York in 1965, and since he has had hundreds of one-person exhibitions. The Gemeentemuseum in The Hague presented his first retrospective exhibition in 1970, and his work was later shown in a major mid-career retrospective curated by Alicia Legg at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1978. LeWitt’s works are in numerous public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Centre National d’Art Moderne Georges Pompidou, Paris, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Turin’s Castello di Rivoli, the Moderna Museet Stockholm and the Tate Gallery, London. In November 2008 “Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective” opened at MassMOCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art), and will remain on view for 25 years. In September 2018 the Estate of Sol LeWitt announced the digital publication of Sol LeWitt Wall Drawings Catalogue Raisonné by Artifex Press. This definitive collection features comprehensive information for LeWitt’s approximately 1,350 wall drawings, comprising approximately 3,500 installations at more than 1,200 venues, and includes approximately 6,000 images.