– Sol LeWitt
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has acquired a sculpture by minimalist artist Sol LeWitt, one of the most influential artists of his generation. Wall Grid is a sculpture featuring LeWitt’s trademark neutral colors and spare geometric stylings.
Some might look at Wall Grid and wonder,”Why is this art?” Let’s explore that topic.
Sol LeWitt was a seminal figure in the history of the Minimalist and Conceptual art movements of the 1960s and 1970s. During his lifetime LeWitt created thousands of works of art. Shapes, squares, pyramids, lines, and forms: hundreds were drawn on gallery walls, turned into objects directly merged with those walls, or morphed into free-standing sculptures. Seen together his body of work appears like a living organism of 2- and 3-D forms moving on surfaces, emerging from walls, and poised in three dimensions. After earning a BFA in art, LeWitt was a graphic designer, a receptionist at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and later an art professor.
Minimalism is a paring down of form to its bare essentials. Traditional narrative and meaning are abandoned. Optical illusions, empty space, shadows, and light are employed as a part of the work instead of merely the environment surrounding the work. The identity of the art object becomes mysterious by virtue of its simplicity.
A work of art is like a word. Considered on its own, it has little context. Taken with other words, it forms a sentence. Meaning is revealed. It’s the same with art. Wall Grid, with no other knowledge of LeWitt or his time, makes little sense to the viewer, but after hearing a few sentences the language can be learned. Combined with the works of other artists of his era, Sol LeWitt’s art becomes part of a larger conversation, which is art history.
So take a look. Visit MOMA’s newest acquisition, and see where your mind leads you. There’s a multitude of wonderful art for the viewing, but be cautious. Don’t completely disregard a work of modern art. You might be turning your back on an adventure.
Sharon Anderson is an artist and writer in Southern California. Contact her through her new and improved website at www.mindtheimage.com.