Drawings, Prints and Books 1968-1988
13 June - 25 August 2002
National Gallery Of Australia
The National Gallery of Australia has opened the first extensive Australian exhibition of drawings, prints and books by prominent American artist Sol LeWitt (born 1928). Dr Anthony White, co-curator of the exhibition and the Gallery's Curator of International Painting and Sculpture, says the NGA has the largest public collection of LeWitt's work in Australia. 'This exhibition provides Australian viewers with a unique opportunity to see the full breadth of Sol LeWitt's work from the late 1960s to the 1980s.'
Following the success of recent Sol LeWitt exhibitions, such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's retrospective in 2000 and the Wall Pieces exhibition of 1998 at Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art, Sol LeWitt: Drawings, Prints and Books 1968-1988 focuses on the artist's work on paper. Comprising four drawings and 22 artist's books, the exhibition features a large collection of prints (192), including a spectacular ten-metre wall series of 75 prints. Although the Gallery has been acquiring the artist's work since the late 1970s, this is the first time such a large selection has gone on public display. 'Sol LeWitt shows the richness of the Gallery's collection of the artist's work in its full glory, most of which has not been previously exhibited at the NGA,' Dr White says.
Sol LeWitt, a leading figure in contemporary American art, was a pioneer of the Conceptual art movement of the 1960s and 1970s. As Dr White explains, LeWitt reacted against the spontaneous, gestural painting style of the Abstract Expressionists with an art based on ideas and geometry. 'Arranging the most basic visual elements, such as lines, geometric figures and colours according to a pre-conceived rule or procedure, LeWitt produces startlingly beautiful compositions. As the process of creating the works involves following a set of precise instructions, many of the artist's works do not have to be executed by the artist himself.' As LeWitt himself once wrote, 'The idea becomes a machine that makes the art'.
'Like many contemporary artists, LeWitt does not indulge the viewer's desire for recognisable images or narrative. At first glance, the repetitious sequences of geometric figures, lines and grids that characterise his work seem almost devoid of interest. Through deeper acquaintance with LeWitt's work and the ideas that motivate it, we begin to better appreciate the intriguing beauty of the artist's geometrical patterns and forms,' Dr White continues.