One of the leaders of Conceptual Art, Sol LeWitt stressed the idea being his work, over its execution. “A blind man can make art if what is in his mind can be passed to another mind in some tangible form,” he once said. Best known for his large-scale wall drawings, LeWitt also created significant bodies of work in sculpture, installation, photography, works on paper, and print, all exploring the visual vocabulary of Minimalism, as well as geometric progression and variation. These compositional explorations resulted in deceptively simple works. LeWitt is one of the seminal artists of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, influencing artists like Eva Hesse and Frank Stella, among countless others.
LeWitt made his first print in 1970, and from that point on printmaking remained central to his practice. A medium he could apply his discipline of conceptual thinking to; presenting an idea or composition and relinquishing control of the final product, in this case to the master printers at Pace Editions, Parasol Press, and Crown Point Press. Arcs and Lines 1,2,3, a suite of intaglio prints was published at Crown Point Press. Intaglio, specifically etching and aquatint techniques, proved to be an effective vehicle for him, allowing subtle and crisp, “impersonal” lines, a vocabulary of mark-making familiar to the Minimalists. During the 1970s Lewitt’s visual glossary was an array of straight, non-straight, and broken lines and arcs and his work during that time seemed to contain all combinations of that glossary. His use of repetition, visual framework, and working with a set of matrices created opportunities for LeWitt to play. He approached each print as a series, he could vary and modify the color, shape, composition, layering, and direction of his images from one print to the next, resulting in an entire body of work all from one plate. LeWitt, perhaps indirectly at first, used prints to work out forms and compositions that he would later revisit in sculpture, book art, and wall drawings. Over the course of his career he produced well over 300 series of prints in intaglio at Crown Point Press, in addition to numerous other print projects.
Arcs and Lines 1,2,3 was included in the 1990 exhibition Prints Made at Crown Point Press at the Tate Gallery in London, a survey of the many influential artists who collaborated with the press’ master printers. LeWitt’s work is included in nearly every contemporary art museum collection in the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Tate Collection, London; Dia:Beacon, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Guggenheim Museum, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; the Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC; the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; and the Hallen fur Neue Kunst Schaffhausen, Switzerland.
A beacon of modern American art died on April 8, 2007 at the age of 78 in New York. From his studio in Chester, Connecticut, Sol LeWitt created profound work that helped establish Minimalism and Conceptualism as leading movements of the 20th century. In contrast to his contemporaries, LeWitt’s opposition to a celebrity lifestyle made him one of the most intriguing and elusive artists of his generation.