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Sol LeWitt in the Collection of Bernice Rose on Thursday, November 16 at 10am

Forged through mutual respect and a love of drawing, Bernice Rose and Sol LeWitt had a long and meaningful professional and personal relationship. Works by Lewitt in her collection include drawings, prints and a wall drawing, as well as postcards with sketches and other paper ephemera. In the personal notes written by LeWitt on these postcards, we can clearly see the friendship and affection they shared.

Works on paper include Circles 1/8” Apart, from 1971, which explores LeWitt’s interest in the relationship of lines to each other as they form circles within the confines of the binding outer square. Prints include Red Grid, Blue Circles, Black and Yellow Arcs from Opposite Corners, from 1972, the set of fifteen etchings from 1977 titled All double combinations-superimposed-of six geometric figures-circle, square, triangle, rectangle, trapezoid and parallelogram and Color Grids from 1977.

The most important work by Sol LeWitt in the Rose collection is Wall Drawing #306. In her essay about the artist in the monograph Sol LeWitt: The Museum of Modern Art, 1978, Rose wrote that “LeWitt’s transposition of his drawings from the restricted if traditional format of a sheet of paper to the architectural space of a wall with which it became absolutely identified was a radical move. It suggests transformation in the role — and the very nature — of the drawing medium, within both his own work and the history of the medium.” Sol LeWitt’s monumental wall drawings explore the idea of art as ‘unique’ and question its permanence through its potential to be recreated. Each wall drawing is realized by a team of trained installers who follow Lewitt’s original diagram and instructions, creating the artist’s vision on a space of the owner’s choosing. Wall Drawing #306 was installed in the Rose apartment in October, 1977, by Jo Wantanabe. It is a three-part drawing in black pencil, described on the artist’s certificate as follows: 1st panel: Arcs from two adjacent corners and the midpoint of one adjacent side between. (left side) (ACG 20); 2nd panel: Circles and arcs from four corners and the midpoints of two opposite sides (left and right) (ACG 95); 3rd panel: Arcs from two adjacent corners and the midpoint of one adjacent side between (right side) (ACG 20). 

Through his continued exploration of the core concepts innate to the wall drawings, LeWitt created a visual language uniquely his own. The construction of the wall drawings derives its meaning from itself, rather than from outside influence. LeWitt uses lines and geometric shapes to create his language. Once the image is ‘written’, LeWitt felt no need to confine the execution of the work to himself, allowing it to be realized by others who followed his instructions with the utmost discipline and precision. The coordinates for each drawing are laid out by the artist using the words ascribed to each work during its inception. In Wall Drawing #306, the instructions dictate that the lines be enclosed in three rectangles, with arcs and circles moving from the corners to meet at various points along the straight outer lines. It is beautiful in its simplicity, and complex in its visual and philosophical meaning. LeWitt said of the installation process that “each person draws a line differently and each person understands words differently” (1). This observation exemplifies the conceptual nature of the wall drawings, and furthers the artist’s continued conversation around ideas that explore the permanence of works of art, their ownership and their uniqueness. 

  • Adrain Searle, Second Thoughts, The Guardian, December 7, 2006.
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