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Sol LeWitt
Splotch #15
2005
"Sol LeWitt on the Roof"
Metropolitan Museum



"Sol LeWitt on the Roof: Splotches, Whirls and Twirls," installation view


Sol LeWitt
Splotch #3
2000
"Sol LeWitt on the Roof"
Metropolitan Museum


The New York 12
by Phyllis Tuchman


Despite its makeshift and provisional beginnings, Minimalism has survived, endured and prospered. These days, Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Carl Andre, Robert Ryman, Sol LeWitt, Brice Marden and Richard Serra hold big reputations. They all have been the subjects of retrospectives at major museums as well as assorted scholarly dissertations. To see their artwork, once thought to be ungainly, their fans have chalked up thousands of frequent flyer miles. Who doesn't know someone who knows someone who has flown to El Paso and then driven three hours to get to Judd's sprawling art campus in Marfa, Texas? And Dia: Beacon has become another destination site for indefatigable art pilgrims.

Yet, as Dorothy discovered, there is no place like home. With "Sol LeWitt on the Roof: Splotches, Whirls and Twirls" currently on view in the roof garden of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and a pair of sculptures -- Circle with Towers and Curved Wall with Towers -- installed in Madison Square Park by the Flatiron Building in Manhattan, it's a good time to review the fact that scattered across Manhattan are a dozen sites with wall drawings by this mild-mannered, thoughtful 77 year old. East Side, West Side, all around the town, there's probably a LeWitt on view in your neighborhood.

About his wall drawings, LeWitt once stated, "I wanted to do a work of art that was as two-dimensional as possible." And, in the same declarative sentences published in Arts Magazine in April 1970, he noted, "Different kinds of walls make for different kinds of drawings." That is part of the pleasure of visiting the "New York 12" in a short period of time. They're tall. They're wide. They meander. They're interrupted by doors, a coat check, elevators and air vents. They are geometric shapes, clusters of lines, a rainbow of colors. Your grade school art teacher probably would have found them too elemental; and your arithmetic teacher might have shrugged her shoulders.

Still, it is clear LeWitt has achieved what he sought almost 30 years ago when he wrote, "It is the desire of artists that their ideas be understood by as many people as possible." Today, these ideas convey joy and ebullience.


PHYLLIS TUCHMAN publishes regularly in the Smithsonian, Town & Country and other journals.

 
   
Sol LeWitt
Wall Drawing #926
1999
Jewish Museum
 
Sol LeWitt
Wall Drawing #808
1996
Whitney Museum
 
Sol LeWitt
Black and White Styrofoam on Red, Yellow and Blue Walls
1996
The Lighthouse
   
 

 
   
Sol LeWitt
Black and White Styrofoam on Red, Yellow and Blue Walls
1996
The Lighthouse
 
Sol LeWitt
Black and White Styrofoam on Red, Yellow and Blue Walls (detail)
1996
The Lighthouse
 
Sol Lewitt's Wall Drawing #999 (2001), with sculptures by Damien Hirst and Isamu Noguchi, at Lever House
   
 
 
   
Sol Lewitt
Wall Drawing #999
2001
Lever House
 
Sol LeWitt
Wall Drawing #1144 (detail)
2004
Museum of Modern Art
 
Sol LeWitt
Wall Drawing #1144
2004
Museum of Modern Art
   
 
 
   
Sol LeWitt
Wall Drawing #402
1983
Equitable Center
 
Sol LeWitt
Wall Drawing #403
1983
Equitable Center
 
Sol LeWitt
Wall Drawing #896
1999
Christie's New York
   
 
 
   
Sol LeWitt
Wall Drawing #896
1999
Christie's New York
 
Sol LeWitt
Wall Drawing #896
1999
Christie's New York
 
Sol LeWitt
Wall Drawing #896
1999
685 Third Avenue
   
 
 
   
Sol LeWitt
Wall Drawing #961
2001
140 Franklin Street
 
Sol LeWitt
Wall Drawing #961
2001
140 Franklin Street
 
Sol LeWitt
Wall Drawing #961
2001
140 Franklin Street
   
 
 
   
Sol LeWitt
Wall Drawing #924
2000
Embassy Suites Hotel,
Battery Park City
 
Sol LeWitt
Wall Drawing #924
2000
Embassy Suites Hotel,
Battery Park City
 
Sol LeWitt
Wall Drawing #1073
2003
New School University
   
 
 
   
Sol LeWitt
Wall Drawing #1109
2003
New York Presbyterian Hospital Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York
 
Sol LeWitt's decoration for a computer monitor at the New York Presbyterian Hospital Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York
 
Sol LeWitt
Wall Drawing #1109
2003
New York Presbyterian Hospital Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York
   
 
       All Photographs by Phyllis Tuchman.
 
A Walking Guide to the "New York 12" Plus One at the Metropolitan Museum

1. Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street
2. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street
3. Whitney Museum of American Art, 945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street
4. The Lighthouse, 111 East 59th Street, between Park and Lexington Avenues
5. Lever House, 390 Park Avenue at 54th Street
6. Museum of Modern Art, 47 West 53rd Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues
7. Equitable Center Courtyard, West 51st and 52nd Streets, between 6th and 7th Avenues
8. Christie's New York, 20 Rockefeller Plaza at West 49th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues
9. 685 Third Avenue (enter on 45th Street)
10. 140 Franklin Street, between Hudson and West Broadway
11. Embassy Suites Hotel, 102 North End Avenue, Battery Park
12. New School University, 55 West 13th, between 5th and 6th Avenues
13. New York Presbyterian Hospital Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York, 165th Street and Broadway