Paula Cooper Gallery, New York
Purchased by Akron Art Museum, Akron, Ohio, 1980
2007 - : Haslinger galleries, 7/7/07 - , Akron Art Museum
1996 - 1997: "Maps, Graphs and Plans: A Seventies Approach" 10/5/96 - 3/23/97, Akron Art Museum
1994-1995: "Grids and Serial Imagery" 10/22/94 - 4/23/95, Akron Art Museum
1994: "Selections from the Collection" 6/25/94 - 8/21/94, Akron Art Museum
1991 - 1992: "Focus on the Collection: A 70th Anniversary Celebration" 11/3/91 - 1/5/92, Akron Art Museum
1987: "Sculpture from the Permanent Collection" 6/13/87 - 8/16/87, Akron Art Museum
1986: "Minimalist Works from the Permanent Collection" 4/18/86-10/26/86, Akron Art Museum
1985: Collection Gallery, Akron Art Museum
Floor Piece #2, 1976
Collection of the Akron Art Museum
Best known for his variations of three-dimensional grids and cubes, Sol LeWitt generates rationally plotted structures that range from refined simplicity to hypnotic complexity. He has pursued a wide variety of artistic activities, including book design, printmaking, and photography, consistently approaching each from a conceptual starting point.
LeWitt studied art at Syracuse University, graduating with a B.F.A. in 1949. In New York in the early 1960s, he and other artists developed an approach to art that stressed rigorous design, geometric abstraction, and a rejection of emotional and spiritual content. By 1965 LeWitt had executed his first sculpture based on modular variations of open cubes. In the late 1960s he began working in steel and aluminum as well as wood; most of the sculptures began as drawings in his notebooks. LeWitt also developed a new way of making extremely large drawings. The collector would purchase a set of written instructions and a documentary photograph of a prior installation of the piece, from which LeWitt or others could execute large drawings directly on walls. One such drawing was temporarily installed at the Akron Art Institute in 1980.
Floor Piece #2 is a single cube that has been subdivided into nine smaller cubes along each edge, creating a three-dimensional grid. Eighty-three of the component cubes have been removed from three levels of the central upper section. Floor Piece #2 is one of eighteen related sculptures—ranging from cubes and pyramids to other forms—all based on the common factor of having their width, depth, and height formed from nine small cubes adding up to 43 1/4 inches.
LeWitt's cubes belong to two art movements: Minimalism and Conceptualism. "In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work," LeWitt insisted in 1967; "all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art."1 This logically led LeWitt to act as a designer of works made by outside fabricators or assistants.
His structures depend only on basic arithmetic, not number theory or advanced mathematics. Though strongly attracted to rational systems, LeWitt believes that "Ideas are discovered by intuition."2 He recognizes the inherent contradiction that art based on ideas must still adopt a physical form that viewers regard as an "art object." Accepting this, LeWitt tries to downplay the materials, painting all his three-dimensional works white and giving them flat uninteresting surfaces to reduce any concentration on their visual properties. Risking visual boredom, he creates objects that invite intellectual engagement.
LeWitt’s work presents stimulating oppositions. The openness of the grids provides an airiness even when the works are large. Inside and outside are simultaneously exposed. Finite two-dimensional lines create three-dimensional forms and the illusion of infinity. There is both stasis and the sensation of movement. LeWitt is well aware of the contradictions in his work between logic and intuition, between his stated emphasis on concepts and the austere elegance of his objects. His approach is to follow a personal aesthetic, not rigid theory, a course that places him in the realm of art rather than science.
Unlike other abstract artists of his generation, LeWitt feels that his sculptures are not mere visual facts but have a meaning beyond their appearance. "Those who understand art only by what it looks like often do not understand very much at all," he asserts.3 "Conceptual artists are mystics rather than rationalists. They leap to conclusions that logic cannot reach."4
- Mitchell D. Kahan, 2001
1. Sol LeWitt, "Paragraphs on Conceptual Art," Artforum 5 (June 1967), 79–83; reprinted in Sol LeWitt (1978), 166.
3. “Sol LeWitt,” in Flash Art 41 (June 1973), 2; reprinted in Sol LeWitt (1978), 174.
4. "Sentences on Conceptual Art," Art-Language 1 (May 1969), 11–13; reprinted in Sol LeWitt (1978), 168.
Garrels, Gary. Sol LeWitt: A Retrospective. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2000.
Sol LeWitt. Ed. Alicia Legg. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1978.
Sol LeWitt: Structures 1962–1993. Oxford, England: Museum of Modern Art, 1993.