Sol LeWitt (American, 1928–2007) studied at the Cartoonists and Illustrators School—now the School of Visual Arts—and worked in publishing until 1956, when he joined the architecture studio of I. M. Pei as a graphic designer. In 1960, he took a job at the bookshop of the Museum of Modern Art, where he worked alongside Lucy R. Lippard; later, with Dan Flavin and Robert Ryman, he became a museum guard. Known as a staunch supporter of other artists’ work, LeWitt published the seminal texts “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art” (1967) and “Sentences on Conceptual Art” (1969). He participated in exhibitions heralding the emergence of Minimalism and Conceptualism, including Primary Structures, organized by Kynaston McShine at the Jewish Museum in 1966, and When Attitude Becomes Form, curated by Harald Szeeman at the Kunsthalle Bern in 1969.
In 1984, the Stedelijk van Abbemuseum in Amsterdam hosted a complete retrospective of LeWitt’s wall drawings. Executed on-site and understood to be temporary, these geometric, mathematics-driven projects take form, of course, as fully realized murals. Yet, in a fundamental way, the core of each piece is not the realized drawing itself but rather the Conceptualist document from which each drawing emerges: a written contract between the artist and the purchaser, accompanied by measurements and instructions that executed (and hence to some degree interpreted) by assistants. The wall drawings thus respond to their settings in both physical and conceptual terms. In the later part of LeWitt’s career, such drawings largely became the medium of his art.
This responsiveness has been fundamental to the site-specificity of Wall Drawing #1073, Bars of Color (New School), The work was secured as a gift from the artist by the curator Gabriella De Ferrari, LeWitt’s close friend, who was the founding chair of the Vera List Center for Art and Politics and, at the time, chair of the Committee for the University Art Collection. The drawing, the first such commission for Arnhold Hall on West 13th Street, was installed in 2003.1 Continuing the pattern of accelerated change that characterized the school in the 2000s, the lobby of Arnhold Hall was subsequently reconfigured twice, including a redesign in 2015 to accommodate the consolidation of the university’s performing arts division on the premises. This alteration, which occurred after LeWitt’s death, changed the proportions of the first-floor west wall. In response, Part A of the installation was rescaled by Anthony Sansotta of the LeWitt Studio, who had been authorized by the artist to oversee the posthumous rescaling and resizing of realized works as needed in order to allow those works to be reimagined for new spaces and configurations in the future. Part A was then redrawn for the altered space.
- The nine-story brick building had been built by R.H. Macy & Co. in 1891, and had more recently housed a Bon Marché department store.