looking to sol


Last summer we were regaled with stories about a brash art-worldling who had been sticking diamonds on somebody else’s skull. We were also told that he hires people to do his work for him, collects art in bulk and shows it in hot venues. In short, he is just the kind of guy the popular press loves to hate, and defenders of the true Bohemian cross harrumph about in choral harmony while awaiting deliverance that never comes. Comparatively little notice was paid to the passing of another artist who trained assistants to realize his projects and who collected art in depth and showed it when asked. His name was Sol LeWitt.

Yet it was LeWitt who first took the heat for defying the old-guard belief that the visible trace of the artist’s hand was the ultimate criterion of aesthetic authenticity and value. Of course, László Moholy-Nagy had challenged that notion back in the 1920s by phoning in the design for an enamel painting to a factory that then made two versions in different sizes. In the ’60s LeWitt went further in legitimizing such practices by establishing the principle that art should be judged by the quality of the idea behind it. ‘Banal ideas cannot be rescued by beautiful execution,’ he wrote.

more from Frieze here.