Sol LeWitt’s Art and Instructions

Sol LeWitt is famous for his leading role in the Conceptual Movement. LeWitt (1967, p. 79) stated: “In conceptual art, the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work”. He believed the artist was a generator of ideas and the idea itself could be the work of art. LeWitt created “instructions” that became the works themselves.

LeWitt’s art consisted of lines in different directions, basic colors and simplified shapes. One of his famous art is Wall Drawing #118. This piece was about the repetition of a set of straight lines connected to each other. LeWitt’s work allows different interpretations of each individual while still maintaining the core concept of the instructions. For Sol LeWitt(1967, p. 79), he believed that “Conceptual art is not necessarily logical. The logic of a piece or series of pieces is a device that is used at times, only to be ruined”. In other words, the work need not look perfect. It is not what the work of art looks like but its process matters. Individuals can replicate LeWitt’s artworks in their own way as long as they follow his instructions.

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Wall Drawing #118, Sol LeWitt

Inspired by LeWitt’s art, I created a set of instructions, which focused on the simplicity of lines drawn in different directions:

On a sheet of A3 paper, draw as many random dots as you want using a pencil. These dots should be evenly distributed over the paper. Each dot should be connected to each other in any directions by straight lines. After you finish, take a photo of the piece of paper.

Executions:

Attempt #1

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Attempt #2

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Attempt #3

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As inspired by LeWitt, the work is successfully ideated and interpreted by the drawers as the instructions were precise, brief, straightforward and opened up more freedom for participants. Depending on the drawer’s imagination and creativity, they can draw as many lines and in any colors as they want as long as they stick to the instructions (the lines are straight and drawn by pencil). Lewitt also believed that areas with different pencil intensity, particularly obtained through cross-hatched lines, would make a visually pleasing work. Besides, hardness and blackness of a pencil would greatly determine the lines’ tone (a 9H pencil creates a hard, light marking while a 9B reveals a soft, black marking). Hence, it depends on participants to decide what kind of pencil should be used to draw. Equally important, the sharpness of the pencil nib would define the lines’ texture so drawers can adjust the texture of the artwork using a pencil sharpener. Moreover, the distribution of the dots on paper plays an important part as it determines the shape of the artwork.

On the other hand, I think the ambiguity of the number of dots to draw degrade the aesthetics of the work. One of the above executions shows lack of dots needed to make a visually engaging work. Providing a range of dots to draw beforehand would help drawers shape the form of the piece while maintaining its aesthetic values. Although there is no strict rule about the exact number of lines to draw, cross-hatch more lines should improve the texture of the piece. Additionally, softly drawn pencil lines, crumpled paper and asymmetrical layout would degrade the aesthetics of the work.

Overall, each execution has its own level of aesthetics. Since my instructions promote flexible drawing materials and participants’ creativity.

Bibliography:

LeWitt, S 1967, “Paragraphs on conceptual art”. Artforum, vol.5, no.10, p.79

Sol LeWitt Artist Overview and Analysis 2017, TheArtStory.org, viewed 20 August 2017, <http://www.theartstory.org/artist-lewitt-sol.htm

Sol LeWitt’s Instruction For Wondrous Walls 2015, improvisedlife.com, 8 October, viewed 20 August 2017, <http://www.improvisedlife.com/2015/08/10/learning-stealing-sol-lewitt/>

 

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