The ABCDs of Sol LeWitt

November 14, 2008 - May 17, 2009

Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA) presents The ABCDs of Sol LeWitt, an exhibition featuring important works from the private collection of Sol LeWitt (American, 1928–2007) that explores the underlying grammar of the artist’s work and ideas. The opening reception at WCMA on Friday, November 14 at 4:00 pm initiates a weekend of events that celebrate LeWitt’s extraordinary achievements. On Saturday, November 15 at 10:00 am, a lecture by LeWitt scholar and curator Andrea Miller-Keller will be held at the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance at Williams College, followed by a conversation with artists Mel Bochner, Michael Glier, and Whitney Museum of American Art curator, Chrissie Iles about LeWitt’s continued significance. On Sunday, November 16, the public opening of Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective will take place at MASS MoCA at noon. The ABCDs of Sol LeWitt complements Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective, which was made possible by a partnership among MASS MoCA, the Williams College Museum of Art, and the Yale University Art Gallery. These events are free to the public, and all are invited to attend. More details follow.

The ABCDs of Sol LeWitt examines the visual vocabulary and aesthetic principles LeWitt employed throughout his forty year career. One of the pioneers of Conceptual Art in the 1960s, LeWitt emphasized the idea underpinning a work over its material realization. Early texts such as “Serial Project No. 1,” published in Aspen Magazine in 1966, established predetermined regulations that guide the arrangement of squares and cubes in the configuration of a corresponding structure (or three-dimensional object). Likening these shapes to a work’s “syntax” and later to its “grammar,” LeWitt defined forms as organizational components. As with language, which is often constituted by sets of rules and words, the artist’s body of work expresses ideas that can be both complicated and straightforward in their verbal and formal permutations. The ABCDs of Sol LeWitt considers how expansive LeWitt’s fundamental methods are when paired with basic elements like the cube and square.

The ABCDs of Sol LeWitt highlights the conceptual process LeWitt articulated in the 1960s but developed and reinterpreted over the course of decades in his production. The exhibition begins in the museum’s Aaron Gallery with an ABCD row (a variation from “Serial Project No.1”) and a selection of the artist’s writings, working drawings, and works on paper. Also on view is a group of Complex Forms, including an example given to the museum by Sol and Carol LeWitt, installed in the museum’s neoclassical rotunda. Although LeWitt stated in 1966 that “A more complex form would be too interesting in itself and obstruct the meaning of the whole,” he would use this term twenty years later when he developed these multifaceted structures, derived from numerical points that specify the works’ various heights.

The ABCDs of Sol LeWitt was organized by Lisa Corrin, Class of 1956 Director of the Williams College Museum of Art, and Erica DiBenedetto, Williams College Graduate Student in the History of Art, Class of 2009. “We are thrilled to be collaborating with the LeWitt Collection on this exhibition,” says Director Lisa Corrin. “The unprecedented presentation of 105 wall drawings at MASS MoCA provides a timely occasion for the Williams College Museum of Art to investigate the work of such an important figure in contemporary art and will lay the groundwork for teaching across the disciplines in years to come. The ABCDs inaugurates a series of annual programs and teaching exhibitions that WCMA will organize during the twenty-five-year run of the Retrospective at MASS MoCA. The two openings launch a long-term resource for our faculty and students at both institutions.” DiBenedetto adds, “As a graduate student at Williams, studying LeWitt’s process with such proximity has been a challenging and rewarding project. LeWitt remained in dialog with his foundational ideas as he made new and stunning work later in life. That practice demonstrates the aesthetic and conceptual potential of these principles.”

You may also see photographs of the wall drawings at MASS MoCA on their website: