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Sol LeWitt: 100 Views Paperback – July 21, 2009
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About the Author
Denise Markonish is Curator at MASS MoCA. She is editor of Badlands: New Horizons in Landscape (MIT Press 2008) and coauthor of Chris Doyle: 50,000 Beds (D.A.P. 2008). Susan M. Cross is Curator at MASS MoCA.
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And a brother is born for adversity." -- Proverbs 17:17 (NKJV)
While he was alive, Sol LeWitt shunned the spotlight. He didn't give talks unless cornered. He avoided having his photograph taken. He encouraged people to focus on the ideas behind his art, rather than him as the artist. He made it clear that people weren't to focus on him as a person.
As a result, this book would never have been created during his lifetime. As some suggest, he wouldn't have approved of it. But it's a treasure, nevertheless.
You'll learn more than you thought possible about Sol LeWitt's wall drawings, his approach to expressing ideas as art, and his extraordinary generosity. And if you are like me, you'll want to see even more wall drawings and learn more about Sol LeWitt, artist, friend, and decent human being.
I stumbled on this book after seeing the amazing exhibition of wall drawings at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts two years ago. I sat down and started to read it, and couldn't put it down.
Where most books about artists are filled with commentary by famous art historians and curators who specialize in a given artist or school of art, this one also contains brief essays by friends, draftsmen who render the wall drawings, fellow artists, protégés, and those whose lives intersected in unusual ways. The portrait that emerges of Sol LeWitt is unique and priceless. What a guy! I wish I had met him.
I encourage you to visit MASS MoCA to see the exhibition before reading the 100 brief essays (arranged in alphabetical order, rather than by perspective or pedigree) and looking at the plates. Develop there your own mental picture of who would create something so unusual and wonderful . . . and then check out your perceptions with this book. You'll find your field of vision expanded and enriched when you do.
If you don't know about wall drawings, I've included an excerpt here from Appendix B of my next book, Help Wanted, where I talk about the influence of these wall drawings on my work:
"Just before completing the final draft of 2,000 Percent Living and a few months before I started to write this book, I visited an exhibition of Sol LeWitt's wall drawings at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts. In case you are unfamiliar with this aspect of the artist's work, let me explain a little bit about it.
"Mr. LeWitt found the process of conceptualizing art to be interesting and worthy apart from producing the art, and he liked to draw. As a result, he worked on helping people to recreate his drawings on a grand scale without his presence. If you would like to see some of such recreated wall drawings, you can find examples at the MASS MoCA Web site. I also encourage you to visit the exhibition, which is planned to continue until 2033.
"As I toured the extensive display of recreated wall drawings, I was impressed by examples of the complex plans that Mr. LeWitt (who is now deceased) provided for those who want to render his wall drawings. The details are so thoroughly developed and easy to understand that virtually anyone who can read English can expect to create an excellent wall drawing that will appear as Mr. LeWitt intended.
"If you are musically inclined, think of his instructions as being similar to the score of a symphony. By playing what the composer wrote on period instruments, musicians can recreate the delightful sounds that existed during the composer's lifetime."