“Just as the development of earth art and installation art stemmed from the idea of taking art out of the galleries, the basis of my involvement with public art is a continuation of wall drawings.” —Sol LeWitt (1928–2007)
The answer is a Sol LeWitt wall drawing! Throughout this summer and fall the Metropolitan Museum of Art currently has had an exhibit of Mr. LeWitt’s Wall Drawing #370: Ten Geometric Figures.
“Every generation renews itself in its own way; there’s always a reaction against whatever is standard.” —Sol LeWitt
Executed in stark black and white these positive and negative spaces give a new meaning to zebra stripes. The contrasting bands of three-inch color lines return 1960s hypnotic Op Art to public view on a very large scale. One entire wall of the Lila Acheson Wallace Wing on the MMA’s first floor, Gallery 399, is used to display this pulsating, geometric wall drawing.
“I believe that the artist’s involvement in the capitalist structure is disadvantageous to the artist and forces him to produce objects in order to live.” —Sol LeWitt
Five drafters labored for a period of four weeks to recreate Wall Drawing #370, which was first installed in March 1982 at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago. Mr. LeWitt would first make sketches and silk screens of the patterns that would then be writ large onto a wall by drafters. Many of Mr. LeWitt’s wall drawings have been destroyed, as will this be painted over after January 3rd 2015. Do not lament for its passing. This impermanence follows Mr. LeWitt’s view of art as impermanent, contrary to the centuries-old outlook, ars longa, vita brevis (art is long, live is short).
“The artist is seen like a producer of commodities, like a factory that turns our refrigerators.” —Sol LeWitt
A much more colorful—deeply saturated tones of blue, green, yellow, orange, red and purple—wall drawing of Mr. LeWitt’s is included as part of Walk About New York’s Subway Art Tour and our Five Squares and a Circle Tour. Unveiled in September 2009, two years after his death, Whirls and Twirls, as it is titled, was one of the last commissions Mr. LeWitt accepted. Its eye-popping colors and monumental scale offer a visual thunder-bolt jolt to the 69,000 commuters who may see it daily. It is one of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s largest Art for Transit projects.
“You shouldn’t be a prisoner of your own ideas.”