SL Landing Banner

The Sol LeWitt Project

“Sol [LeWitt]…always saw something new just over the horizon… His relentless questioning… helped divert the stream of art… toward a more open and democratic vision of art’s relationship to culture… all subsequent art is in his debt.”  —Mel Bochner1

About the Project

In fall 2019, the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies and Rice Public Art celebrated the acquisition and installation of internationally-renowned artist Sol LeWitt’s “Wall Drawing #1115” and the exhibition of a loaned work, “Wall Drawing #869A,” at the Anderson-Clarke Center. Like a musical score or architectural blueprints, LeWitt’s wall drawings are detailed instructions for artworks conceived by the artist to be executed by others.

As the first conceptual artwork in the Rice Public Art collection and the third work of public art at the Glasscock School (in addition to Stephen Dean’s Black Ladder and Joseph Havel’s In Play), LeWitt’s Wall Drawing #1115 serves as a tremendous artistic resource for our campus and community. Wall Drawing #1115 is a generous gift to Rice University from H. Russell Pitman. Wall Drawing #869A, a “copied lines” wall drawing installed at the Glasscock School by 36 campus and community members, is on loan from Paula Cooper Gallery, New York through fall 2022.

These two dynamic wall drawings have inspired a range of public programs, courses and events. They will continue to be an educational resource for our campus and community for years to come.

Sign up for updates about future Glasscock School community art events, courses and programs.

Read on to:

  • Learn more about Sol LeWitt and Wall Drawings #1115 and #869A
  • Learn more about related programs, courses and events and project partners
  • View press coverage of the wall drawing opening events and installation and explore other media about the Sol LeWitt Project, including time-lapse installation videos

“I will refer to the kind of art in which I am involved as conceptual art. In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work…The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.” —Sol LeWitt2

sol-lewitt

Sol LeWitt, Neal Boenzi, New York Times/Redux

Solomon “Sol” LeWitt (1928–2007) was an American artist whose work and ideas played a pivotal role in establishing Minimalism and Conceptual art. LeWitt was a pioneer in elevating ideas as an art form. His abundant body of work includes more than 1,270 “wall drawings” and numerous “structures” (as he called his sculptures), as well as many drawings, paintings and other forms of art. His work explored “seriality” of ideas and forms, an approach LeWitt compared to musical variations and photography.

Rice University has a special connection to LeWitt and his wall drawings. LeWitt’s wall drawing, “Glossy and Flat Black Squares” was commissioned and installed as Rice Gallery’s first site-specific work in 2007. This same work was re-installed as Rice Gallery’s final exhibition in 2017.

LeWitt has been described as: “one of the most influential American artists of the 20th century…,”3 “a lodestar of modern American art…,”4 and “…as visionary as anyone who ever made art.”As Kimberly Davenport, founding director of Rice Gallery said: “Sol figured out how to make art eternal. That was his genius.”6

“The artist and the draftsman become collaborators in making the art.” —Sol LeWitt7

Like a musical score or architectural blueprints, LeWitt’s wall drawings are detailed instructions for artworks conceived by the artist and executed by others whom he or his studio trained. LeWitt believed that “the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work…”2 and viewed the draftspeople who installed his wall drawings as collaborators in realizing his concepts.

Since 1968, more than 1,270 LeWitt wall drawings have been installed worldwide. They include an enormously diverse array of media, colors and shapes, and have been described as “plainly beautiful, gorgeously rendered, and exquisite in visual effect.”8 These works are drawn or painted “directly on the wall with no intervention”9 so that “the art is intimately involved with the architecture. It is available to be seen by everyone.”10

LeWitt’s wall drawings are an ideal fit for a school and university dedicated to community learning and engagement, as they celebrate ideas, are devoted to “the democratic hand”11 and are “imbued with the spirit of collaboration and generosity.”12 

The two LeWitt wall drawings currently on display at the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies, Wall Drawing #1115 and Wall Drawing #869A, demonstrate the breadth of concepts, media and styles in LeWitt’s wall drawings.

Wall Drawing #1115: Circle within a square, each with broken bands of color

1115

Sol LeWitt’s “Wall Drawing #1115: Circle within a square, each with broken bands of color” is a 14 by 14 foot square work that adorns a two-story wall in the Dean’s Commons of the Anderson-Clarke Center, the central convening space of our school. More than 500 painted “bands” of varying sizes, shapes and colors comprise this artwork, forming interwoven circles and exuding a powerful energy and a sense of interconnection.

A team of professional draftspeople meticulously installed Wall Drawing #1115 over four weeks in October and November, 2019. The team was led by Gabriel Hurier from the Sol LeWitt studio with the collaboration of Houston artist-installers David Krueger, Cat McCaulley and Jacob Villalobos.

First installed in 2004 at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art, Wall Drawing #1115 is a permanent acquisition of Rice Public Art, the first work of conceptual art in Rice’s collection, and a generous gift to Rice University from H. Russell Pitman.

Image captions: Above - Draftspeople David Krueger, Jacob Villalobos, Gabriel Hurier and Cat McCaulley installing LeWitt’s Wall Drawing #1115 at the Glasscock School, November, 2019. Photo credit: Cathy Maris. Below - Sol LeWitt Wall Drawing #1115: Circle within a square, each with broken bands of color, 2004. Acrylic paint, dimensions variable. First drawn by: Takeshi Arita, Patrick Gavin, Glenn LaVertu, Laura Ostrander, Sara Saltzman. First Installation: Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art, Providence, RI, February 2004. SL-439-WD. Current installation at Rice University drawn by: Gabriel Hurier, David Krueger, Cat McCaully, Jacob Villalobos, November 2019. Photo credit: Bret Newcomb. A gift to Rice University from H. Russell Pitman ’58.


Wall Drawing #869A: Copied lines

869A install and finish

In November 2019, 36 Glasscock School and Rice community members installed a “copied lines” wall drawing of 300 “not straight horizontal” lines drawn freehand. John Hogan, the Mary Jo and Ted Shen Installations Director and Archivist for Sol LeWitt Wall Drawings at the Yale University Art Gallery, visited for a one-day training.

Led by Glasscock School studio art instructors Ellen Orseck and Laura Spector and Rice Visual and Dramatic Arts (VADA) faculty Josh Bernstein and Natasha Bowdoin with support from seven Glasscock School lifelong learners and six Rice undergraduates from the VADA and Architecture departments, the installation team also included 19 Rice and Glasscock alumni, staff and stakeholders.

Wall Drawing #869A has never before been installed anywhere in the world. It is a generous loan from Paula Cooper Gallery, New York and will be on display on the second floor of the Glasscock School for three years. At the end of that time, the loaned wall drawing must be painted over and photographic documentation of its destruction provided to Paula Cooper Gallery. If the work is later loaned to or acquired by another institution, it can come to life again, a demonstration of the wall drawing’s concept living on and transcending place and time.

Image captions: Above - Rice Assistant Professor Natasha Bowdoin (right) installing LeWitt’s Wall Drawing #869A with Rice undergraduate Sophie Parker (center) and Glasscock student Ken Yanowski (left), November 2019. Photo credit: Cathy Maris. Below - Sol LeWitt Wall Drawing #869A: Copied Lines. From the top of a 96-inch (240 cm) square, using a marker or crayon, draw a not straight horizontal line. The line is black. The second line is drawn by another person, using another color, beneath the first line, as close as possible, imitating the black line. The next line is drawn in another color beneath the second line. Each color is drawn by a different person, and is continued, in the same sequence, to the bottom of the square. The black line (the first line) is not repeated. Continue to the bottom of the square with the last complete line. Marker or crayon, black pencil 96 x 96 in. (243.8 x 243.8 cm). First drawn by: Milagros Lugo Amador, Josh Bernstein, Natasha Bowdoin, Elin Britton, Korin Brody, Barb Brooks, Robert Bruce, Kiae Choi, Kathleen Huggins Clarke, Robert L. Clarke, Lola Deng, Anna Fritz, Mel Glasscock, Susanne Glasscock, John Hogan, Gabriel Hurier, Stanley Kaminski, David Krueger, Ann Scully Malcolm, Cathy Maris, Cat McCaully, Mary McIntire, Deborah Melanson, Ellen Orseck, Sophie Parker, Braden Perryman, Andy Rodriguez, Izzy Samperio, Anne Santos, John Sparagana, Laura Spector, Anne Swanson, Courtney Tardy, Jacob Villalobos, Jenny Wang, Alison Weaver, Ken Yanowski. First Installation: Rice University, Glasscock School of Continuing Studies, November, 2019 SL-458-WD. Photo credit: Bret Newcomb. The LeWitt Estate and Paula Cooper Gallery, New York. Loan courtesy of Paula Cooper Gallery, New York

“Every person alive is an artist in some way… We’re all making art as we live.” —Sol LeWitt13

Big Draw C. Maris

Big Draw participants making their mark. Photo credit: Cathy Maris.

We have hosted a series of community programs, courses and events celebrating Sol LeWitt, conceptual art, making and experiencing art and collectively asking “big questions” in art. The wall drawings will continue to serve as inspiration for campus and community education and engagement for years to come.

  • Sign up for updates about future Glasscock School community art events, courses and programs.
  • Educators: If you are interested in visiting the wall drawings with students or integrating content related to these works into a class, please contact gscsart@rice.edu.
Upcoming Programs, Courses and Events

The Art of Meditation

April 24–May 8, 2020, Three Fridays, 9:30–11:30 a.m.

Experience art like never before through a series of guided meditations led by Tibetan meditation expert Alejandro Chaoul, among works from the Rice Public Art collection, including Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing #1115.


 

Past Programs, Courses and Events
Kim Davenport Idea of Art C. Maris

Kimberly Davenport discusses Rice Gallery’s 1997 and 2017 installations of Sol LeWitt’s site-specific wall drawing, “Glossy and Flat Black Squares” in the Glasscock School’s fall 2019 course, “The Idea of Art and the Art of Ideas.” Photo credit: Cathy Maris.

The Idea of Art and the Art of Ideas Continuing Studies Course

Mondays, Oct.7- Nov. 11, 2019, 7-8:30 p.m., Anderson-Clarke Center

This course explored big questions such as “What is art?” and “Who is an artist?” using the field of conceptual art and the work of Sol LeWitt as a springboard. Featuring Rice scholars and other experts in the fields of art history, studio art, architecture, music and more, it also included a behind-the-scenes viewing of LeWitt’s artwork and influences at the Menil Drawing Institute.


Who is An Artist? Sol LeWitt Master Installer Talk

Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, 7-8:30 p.m., Anderson-Clarke Center Hudspeth Auditorium, Free

John Hogan, Installations Director for the LeWitt Estate and Installations Director and Archivist for Sol LeWitt Wall Drawings at Yale University Art Gallery, reflected on four decades of installing LeWitt’s work in this talk facilitated by John Sparagana, Chair of Visual and Dramatic Arts, Rice University.


The Big Draw

Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, 5-7 p.m., Anderson-Clarke Center Dean’s Commons, Free

Community members of all ages were invited to practice making their mark and following and generating creative instructions in a community workshop led by Glasscock studio art instructors and staff.


Glasscock and Rice Studio Art Courses

Two fall 2019 Glasscock School studio art courses and two Rice undergraduate studio art courses incorporated the study of LeWitt’s work and wall drawings, including exchanging instructions between classes for creating their own wall drawings.


Solebration: Free Community Opening Reception

Monday, Nov. 18, 2019, 5:30-7 p.m., Anderson-Clarke Center

More than 200 campus and community members celebrated the installation of Wall Drawing #1115 and Wall Drawing #869A in this free public event.


Symposium: Sol LeWitt Today

Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, 10 a.m.-12 p.m., Moody Center for the Arts, Free

Nationally-acclaimed LeWitt scholars, curators, and artists engaged in a critical discussion of LeWitt’s work in this event organized by the Moody Center for the Arts, Rice Public Art and the Department of Art History.

We are grateful to the following partners for their collaboration on the Sol LeWitt Project:

This project is funded, in part, by a generous gift from H. Russell Pitman ’58. Programming is also supported with grants from the Rice University Arts Initiative and the Glasscock School Continuing Scholars Endowment.

Press Coverage

  1. Glasscock unveils ‘spectacular’ LeWitt wall drawings Rice Media Nov. 22, 2019
  2. Sol LeWitt wall drawings unveiled at Rice University Rice University video Nov. 21, 2019
  3. Wall Drawing #1115 time lapse video Glasscock School of Continuing Studies Nov. 20, 2019
  4. Wall Drawing #869A time lapse video Glasscock School of Continuing Studies Nov. 20, 2019
  5. Sol LeWitt’s legacy returns to Rice Rice Thresher Nov. 19, 2019
  6. Two major acquisitions strengthen Rice Public Art Rice Media March 1, 2019

Resources

Learn more about the Glasscock School

Learn more about Rice Public Art

Learn more about Sol LeWitt and LeWitt’s wall drawings



Sources

  1. Mel Bochner in: Sol LeWitt: 100 Views (2009). MASS MoCA, North Adams in association with Yale University Press, New Haven and London.
  2. Sol LeWitt, “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art”, Artforum, vol. 5, no. 10, New York, June 1967
  3. Joanna Marsh, curator of contemporary art at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, “Sol LeWitt, influential American artist, at 78” Associated Press, April 9, 2007. https://www.capecodtimes.com/article/20070409/NEWS/704090372 Retrieved 7-18-19
  4. “Sol LeWitt, Master of Conceptualism, Dies at 78” (April 9, 2007). New York Times. Michael Kimmelman. Retrieved 7/17/19 https://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/09/arts/design/09lewitt.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&adxnnlx=1176204813-LrdUNPmPWisHnxJ1nFVssQ
  5. Ingrid Sischy, “Spotlight: Sol's Patch,” Vanity Fair, June 2011, 122. 3.
  6. Kimberly Davenport. Personal communication to Cathy Maris, 4-12-19.
  7. Sol LeWitt “Doing Wall Drawings” Art Now, vol. 3, no. 2, Clinton, June 1971, reprinted in Sol LeWitt Critical Texts (1995). Edited by Adachiara Zevi.
  8. Joseph C. Thompson, Director MASS MoCA, In: Sol LeWitt: 100 Views (2009). MASS MoCA, North Adams in association with Yale University Press, New Haven and London
  9. Sol LeWitt Sol LeWitt: Four Decades Michael Blackwood film. SF MoMA retrospective. Interview with chief curator Gary Garrels. https://www.michaelblackwoodproductions.com/product/sol-lewitt-4-decades/ Retrieved 7-18-19
  10. Sol LeWitt “Sol LeWitt by Saul Ostrow” Bomb Magazine, Fall 2003. https://bombmagazine.org/articles/sol-lewitt/ Retrieved on 7-18-19.
  11. John Hogan, Glasscock School wall drawing training, November 4, 2019
  12. Susan Cross and Denise Markonish, Curators, MASS MoCA. “Foreword” in: Sol LeWitt: 100 Views (2009). MASS MoCA, North Adams in association with Yale University Press, New Haven and London.
  13. Sol LeWitt, as cited in Sol LeWitt: A Life of Ideas (2019). Lary Bloom, Wesleyan University Press, Middletown, CT.

Stay in Touch

Sign up for updates about Glasscock School community art events, courses and programs.