“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
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
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