Biography of Sol LeWitt
Sol LeWitt (born 1928 in Connecticut, died 2007 in New York, USA) had a profound interest in the idea of a series, which when repeated would create a system. The influence of Eadweard Muybridge's photography and LeWitt's fascination for the system was clearly apparent in his early works when he made oil paintings of Muybridge's sequences of figures in motion. The next step for him was to rethink the simple form of the cube, how it could be reinterpreted each time anew by presenting it in different ways. Important for Sol LeWitt was how the idea for the execution materialized in the mind first. LeWitt was one of the great conceptual artists, one of the first to consider that the idea is actually more important than the work itself. This became very apparent in his now infamous wall paintings.
The first wall painting he made was in 1968 at Paula Cooper Gallery in New York. Here he drew vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines in such a way that it created a pattern – a system. LeWitt documented the whole process, writing up the 'rules' of how he made the mural. At the end of the exhibition the wall drawing was painted over and no longer existed, but the rules did. It was this ephemeral nature of the work, which ceased to exist on the two-dimensional plane but continued to exist as an idea, that became the underlying motivation to his later works. Although the wall paintings may be considered multiples as they can happen more than once, they can only do so in one place at a time – making them unique works.
Yet LeWitt's approach to art was also very much apparent in his multiples. Whether it was to reduce three-dimensional objects to two-dimensional, for example by distorting cubes on paper or recreating series to make up his beloved systems. The preferred medium for LeWitt’s multiples was paper, as it was similar to the walls he thought up his systems for. One of the most famous multiples being Paper Folds, where the title describes both the action and result. LeWitt priced these at $100, never to be sold for more than that, but unfortunately they are so scarce now that people have been selling them for tenfold that amount.