What is Black and White and on the Wall?

“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)

Sol LeWitt, Metropolitan Museum of Art, MMA, wall drawing, Black and White, Op Art, Conceptual Art, Modern Art, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Geometric

“There is geometry in the humming of the strings, there is music in the spacing of the spheres.”
—Pythagoras (582 BC–497 BC)

Sol LeWitt, Metropolitan Museum of Art, MMA, wall drawing, Black and White, Op Art, Conceptual Art, Modern Art, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Geometric

“Because geometry is the right foundation of all painting, I have decided to teach its rudiments and principles to all youngsters eager for art.” —Albrecht Durer (1471–1528)

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.

Sol LeWitt, Metropolitan Museum of Art, MMA, wall drawing, Black and White, Op Art, Conceptual Art, Modern Art, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Geometric

“Music is the arithmetic of sounds as optics is the geometry of light.”
—Claude Debussy (1862–1918)

Sol LeWitt, Metropolitan Museum of Art, MMA, wall drawing, Black and White, Op Art, Conceptual Art, Modern Art, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Geometric

“All one’s inventions are true, you can be sure of that. Poetry is as exact a science as geometry.” —Gustave Flaubert (1821–1880)

“Every generation renews itself in its own way; there’s always a reaction against whatever is standard.”  —Sol LeWitt

Sol LeWitt, Metropolitan Museum of Art, MMA, wall drawing, Black and White, Op Art, Conceptual Art, Modern Art, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Geometric

“The power of mathematics is often to change one thing into another, to change geometry into language.” —Marcus du Sautoy (1965– , British Mathematician)

Sol LeWitt, Metropolitan Museum of Art, MMA, wall drawing, Black and White, Op Art, Conceptual Art, Modern Art, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Geometric

“ I think the universe is pure geometry—basically, a beautiful shape twisting around and dancing over space-time.” —Antony Garrett Lisi (1969– , American Physicist)

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.

Sol LeWitt, Metropolitan Museum of Art, MMA, wall drawing, Black and White, Op Art, Conceptual Art, Modern Art, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Geometric

“Geometry is not true, it is advantageous.”
—Henri Poincare (1854–1912, French Mathematician)

Sol LeWitt, Metropolitan Museum of Art, MMA, wall drawing, Black and White, Op Art, Conceptual Art, Modern Art, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Geometric

“Arithmetic! Algebra! Geometry! Grandiose trinity! Luminous triangle! Whoever has not known you is without sense!” —Comte de Lautreamont (1846–1870, French Poet)

“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

Sol LeWitt, Metropolitan Museum of Art, MMA, wall drawing, Black and White, Op Art, Conceptual Art, Modern Art, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Geometric

“The two elements the traveler first captures in the big city are extra human architecture and furious rhythm. Geometry and anguish.” —Federico Garcia Lorca (1898–1936)

Sol LeWitt, Metropolitan Museum of Art, MMA, wall drawing, Black and White, Op Art, Conceptual Art, Modern Art, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Geometric

“Inspiration is needed in geometry, just as much as in poetry.”
—Aleksandr Pushkin (1799–1837)

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).

Sol LeWitt, Metropolitan Museum of Art, MMA, wall drawing, Black and White, Op Art, Conceptual Art, Modern Art, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Geometric

“Let no one ignorant of geometry enter here.” —Plato (427 BC–347 BC)

Sol LeWitt, Metropolitan Museum of Art, MMA, wall drawing, Black and White, Op Art, Conceptual Art, Modern Art, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Geometric

“Geometry is one and eternal shining in the mind of God. That share in it accorded to men is one of the reasons that Man is the image of God.” — Johannes Kepler (1571–1630)

“The artist is seen like a producer of commodities, like a factory that turns our refrigerators.” —Sol LeWitt

Sol LeWitt, Metropolitan Museum of Art, MMA, wall drawing, Black and White, Op Art, Conceptual Art, Modern Art, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Geometric

“Mighty is geometry; joined with art, resistless.” —Euripides (480 BC–406 BC)

Sol LeWitt, Metropolitan Museum of Art, MMA, wall drawing, Black and White, Op Art, Conceptual Art, Modern Art, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Geometric

“The knowledge of which geometry aims is the knowledge of the eternal.”
—Plato (427 BC–347 BC)

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.

Sol LeWitt, Metropolitan Museum of Art, MMA, wall drawing, Black and White, Op Art, Conceptual Art, Modern Art, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Geometric

“For God is like a skillful Geometrician.”
—Sir Thomas Browne (1605—1682, British philosopher)

Sol LeWitt, Metropolitan Museum of Art, MMA, wall drawing, Black and White, Op Art, Conceptual Art, Modern Art, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Geometric

“The study of geometry is a petty and idle exercise of the mind, if it is applied to no larger system than the starry one. Mathematics should be mixed not only with physics but with ethics; that is mixed mathematics.” —Henry Thoreau (1817–1862)

“You shouldn’t be a prisoner of your own ideas.”
—Sol LeWitt

Advertisements

One response to “What is Black and White and on the Wall?

  1. Pingback: Triangulos |·

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s