Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective
A collaboration between Yale University Art Gallery, MASS MoCA, and the Williams College Museum of Art
Wall Drawing 340
Six-part drawing. The wall is divided horizontally and vertically into six equal parts. 1st part: On red, blue horizontal parallel lines, and in the center, a circle within which are yellow vertical parallel lines; 2nd part: On yellow, red horizontal parallel lines, and in the center, a square within which are blue vertical parallel lines; 3rd part: On blue, yellow horizontal parallel lines, and in the center, a triangle within which are red vertical parallel lines; 4th part: On red, yellow horizontal parallel lines, and in the center, a rectangle within which are blue vertical parallel lines; 5th part: On yellow, blue horizontal parallel lines, and in the center, a trapezoid within which are red vertical parallel lines; 6th part: On blue, red horizontal parallel lines, and in the center, a parallelogram within which are yellow vertical parallel lines. The horizontal lines do not enter the figures.
Red, yellow, blue crayon on red, yellow and blue wall
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Purchase: gift of Carol R. Brown and Family and A.W. Mellon Acquisition Endowment Fund, 84.79.1
First Drawn By
MASS MoCA Building 7
Sol LeWitt created Wall Drawing 340 during a period of experimentation with basic geometric shapes. His formal vocabulary included what the artist referred to as ‘primary’ shapes – circle, square, triangle – and ‘secondary’ shapes – parallelogram, trapezoid, and rectangle. While earlier drawings, such as Wall Drawing 295 (also on display at MASS MoCA) depict these shapes in outline only, in Wall Drawing 340 the shapes are delineated by straight parallel horizontal and vertical lines (the most basic elements of LeWitt’s vocabulary). Later, the geometric forms became even bolder as LeWitt began entirely filling them in with solid colors.
As LeWitt’s formal and material vocabularies grew and changed, his use of color became bolder. His earliest wall drawings, which were drawn in graphite and colored pencil on white wall, appear faint and ethereal. In the mid-1970s, he started to create drawings with primary color and black backgrounds. The draftsmen drew on the colored walls using white crayon or chalk. By 1980, when LeWitt created Wall Drawing 340, he had begun using primary colored crayons. The drawing's instructions call for the draftsmen to draw in crayon on top of red, yellow, and blue backgrounds. This process of layering one primary color over another creates secondary hues. In the drawing LeWitt depicts all possible combinations of primary color crayon over different primary color backgrounds.
The crayon wall drawings are executed on walls with an orange peel-like texture, which allows the crayon to stick to the wall. It only adheres to the raised parts of the surface; thus the light shines through the crayon, hitting the surface of the wall and revealing its texture.