Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective
A collaboration between Yale University Art Gallery, MASS MoCA, and the Williams College Museum of Art
Wall Drawing 381
A square divided horizontally and vertically into four equal parts, one gray, one yellow, one red and one blue, drawn with color and India ink washes.
India ink wash and color ink wash
LeWitt Collection, Chester, Connecticut
John Weber Gallery, New York
First Drawn By
MASS MoCA Building 7
The four colors in Wall Drawing 381 are arranged based on the system that Sol LeWitt would eventually codify for the organization of the four basic types of lines. The lines are organized in a square divided into four equal parts with vertical in the top left, horizontal in the top right, diagonal left in the bottom left, and diagonal right in the bottom right. When LeWitt began using color pencil he did not assign specific colors to specific line directions, but eventually this too was codified: vertical lines are drawn in gray pencil, horizontal in yellow, diagonal left in red, and diagonal right in blue. The translation of this system to ink wash is typical of LeWitt’s evolution. Throughout the 1980s the artist primarily explored the possibilities of India ink and color ink washes, often using ink to reiterate the systems that he had used when working with pencil.
As in all of LeWitt’s colored ink wash wall drawings at MASS MoCA, each of the colors in Wall Drawing 381 is composed of six layers of ink, which are applied with ink-soaked rags via two different methods. The draftsmen apply two of the ink layers by moving the rags in a wiping motion across the wall. The other four layers are applied using a technique that the draftsmen refer to as ‘booming’ or ‘boom booming.’ This technique involves crumpling up an ink-soaked rag and pounding the wall with the crumpled part. The booming process creates a slightly modulated, textured surface. All six layers of ink must be applied at specific intervals which occur when the previous layers are still wet, but not so wet that the application of the new layer will remove the previous layers. The draftsmen keep track of these intervals using charts where they record the application times of each layer.