I’ve been an uncomfortable fan of Sol Lewitt ever since I discovered him in college. I’d pour through his catalogs and books, enjoying the way he created systems and worked them through to the end. The books were intimate looks into the working of the artists mind; Meticulous sketchbooks that read like multiplication tables. (Since then I’ve had it in my head that a similar exercise could be played through with weaving.)
His large wall installations were what made me uncomfortable. They seemed arrogant, sadistic, and lazy, especially when I was much closer to the hand crafted processes. In hind sight, I was over reacting, now I quite enjoy it. What Lewitt did was to write excruciatingly detailed instructions of how to do his installations, then left the bulk of the work to the “draftsmen” he employed to realize the piece.
There have been three recent installations of Lewitt’s work and luckily for us, the draftsmen have been documenting the laborious process of the installations.
Walker Art Center
This installation is part of the Sol Lewitt: 2D+3D exhibition at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN until April 24, 2011. In their Blog entry “Peace or Misery“, two members of the Walker’s installation crew, John Vogt and Loren Smith recount the experience of working with two of Lewitt’s trusted installation Draftsman on an installation.
Over several weeks, the quartet clocked some 525 hours in the Friedman Gallery, drawing lines, holding a straight edge while someone else drew lines, cleaning up drawn lines, sharpening leads for to draw more lines, and once in a while taking breaks from drawing lines.
Its an excellent document of the obsessive compulsive nature of the execution of one of Lewitt’s straight edge drawings, from the pure technical aspects to the mental anguish.
Read the whole story: Peace or Misery
The Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo, NY recently completed the “largest Sol Lewitt scribble wall drawing”. They’ve kept a running Tumblr blog of the progress of the work.
After 54 days of scribbling for 7 hours a day, 16 artists—all paid—worked for a total of 5,026 hours using 1,717 pencil leads to complete this monumental work of art.
This task required a legion of artists scribbling intensely for hours at a time in cramped scaffolding with others in tight quarters. Their journal documents the process in detail.
Read all the entries at Albright-Knox Tumblr
Last, but certainly not least is the installation by MASS MoCA of the largest collection of Sol Lewitt wall drawings: Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective This exhibition was one of the last of Lewitt’s projects, he specified the layout of the exhibition of 105 wall drawings before his death in 2007.
Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective comprises 105 of LeWitt’s large-scale wall drawings, spanning the artist’s career from 1969 to 2007. These occupy nearly an acre of specially built interior walls that have been installed—per LeWitt’s own specifications—over three stories of a historic mill building situated at the heart of MASS MoCA’s campus. The 27,000-square-foot structure, known as Building #7, has been fully restored for the exhibition by Bruner/Cott & Associates architects, which has closely integrated the building into the museum’s main circulation plan through a series of elevated walkways, a dramatic new vertical lightwell, and new stairways.
Over at the Hello Beautiful blog, They have an excellent document of participating in the installation of some of these pieces. Its a fun and engaging inside look at the process of putting together this amazing collection.
They have plenty of process pictures:
Be sure to check out the whole entry at Hello Beautiful: Do-it-yourself Sol LeWitt Wall Drawings. It’s easy!
The show at MASS MoCA is up until 2033, so you have a bit of time to check it out.