Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective
A collaboration between Yale University Art Gallery, MASS MoCA, and the Williams College Museum of Art
Wall Drawing 11
A wall divided horizontally and vertically into four equal parts. Within each part, three of the four kinds of lines are superimposed.
Yale University Art Gallery
Gift of Anna Marie and Robert F. Shapiro, B.A. 1956
Paula Cooper Gallery, New York
First Drawn By
Jerry Orter, Adrian Piper, Sol LeWitt
MASS MoCA Building 7
Sol LeWitt executed his first wall drawing in 1968 at Paula Cooper Gallery in New York. LeWitt’s drawings – both on paper and on the wall – grew out of the artist’s serial, three-dimensional work which systematically investigated variations on modular cube structures. LeWitt would use the same system of permutations and variations in his drawings.
In 1968 Seth Siegelaub invited LeWitt to contribute drawings to “The Xerox Book,” a compilation of works by a selection of artists whose work was primarily three-dimensional. For his section, LeWitt created a system of twenty-four permutations of the most basic element of drawing – the line. LeWitt used a simple vocabulary of the four basic directions in which lines can be drawn: horizontal, vertical, 45º diagonal right and 45º diagonal left. The artist worked out a system of twenty-four permutations made by rotating the lines (drawn inside squares) in four sections of four. Later he would also superimpose the lines on top of one another, as seen in Wall Drawing 11. Not long after he created Drawings Series I, II, III, IV for “The Xerox Book,” LeWitt realized his first wall drawing, making the radical move from drawing on paper to the wall.
LeWitt’s earliest wall drawings, including Wall Drawing 11, all are done in hard, black pencil, a material that rendered the work as two-dimensional as possible and maintained the integrity of the wall as a plane. By drawing directly on the wall, Lewitt limited the work’s duration; ultimately the wall drawings are painted over. Yet, despite this temporary aspect of the drawings, the idea is permanent, and the drawings can be redrawn on another wall by another person.
For these drawings, the LeWitt studio uses 6H mechanical pencil leads from Stadtler, meticulously sharpened and then taped together in small bundles, the width of the pencil leads themselves yielding the spacing between lines. Each single lead is good for about 10’ of lines, before the bundles must be cut apart, and the leads separated, re-sharpened and re-assembled.