LAMA BLOG

Sol LeWitt: The System is the Work of Art

September 26, 2016

A work on paper and three prints by renowned American artist Sol LeWitt (1928–2007) will go to auction at Los Angeles Modern Auctions on October 9, 2016.  One of the leading artists of the 20th century, LeWitt was a stalwart of the New York art scene in the 1960s, along with contemporaries such as Donald Judd, Dan Flavin and Robert Ryman. His drawings, prints and paintings employed lines and grids as basic units in complex systems. For LeWitt, the idea behind the work was as important as the finished piece: “The system is the work of art; the visual work of art is the proof of the system.” LeWitt’s use of systematic logic and simple forms enabled him to bridge the gap between Minimalism and Conceptual art, sealing his reputation as one of the most important artists of the era.

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

Lot 263, Wavy Lines in All Directions #8, Sol LeWitt, 1996
October 9, 2016 Modern Art & Design Auction

From the 1980s onward, LeWitt’s practice focused predominantly on curved forms and warm color, as can be seen in the three prints available here. With their energetic waves and complex pattern, works like Wavy Lines in All Directions, #8 (1996) and Complex Forms (pl. #3) (1990) stand in marked contrast to the austere intellectualism of the artist’s early work. These later works progressed in what LeWitt described as “a logical, organic way. Each development leads to the next. maybe sometimes there is a leap from one to another, but I don’t think that is arbitrary.”

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

Lot 264, Complex Forms (pl. #3), Sol LeWitt, 1990
October 9, 2016 Modern Art & Design Auctions

A prolific printmaker, LeWitt produced Curvy Brushstrokes (Color) (1997), an etching with aquatint at the celebrated Crown Point Press in San Francisco. While LeWitt often issued instructions for assistants to execute his site-specific drawings, the tactile nature of etching meant that the artist’s direct involvement was required. This is apparent in the vivid work, which possesses a vibrant energy and hums with color and expression.

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

Lot 262, Curvy Brushstrokes (Color), Sol LeWitt, 1997
October 9, 2016 Modern Art & Design Auction

Untitled (Wavy Lines) (2004) is a unique work on paper, which bears a close relationship to LeWitt’s famous monumental wall murals. The year before this work was created, the artist emphasized the importance of the artist’s hand in executing his gouache works: “The recent gouaches that I’ve been doing stem from some of the early wall drawings, using not-straight pencil lines… As with the wall pieces, the gouaches have had their own organic development, I try to make them as part of the ritual of my life… The wall drawings have ideas that can be transmitted to others to realize. Only I can do the gouaches.”

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

Lot 261, Untitled (Wavy Lines), Sol LeWitt, 2004
October 9, 2016 Modern Art & Design Auction

The upcoming sale of these four works represents an excellent opportunity to acquire a suite of late works by this modern master.

Sol LeWitt quoted in interview with Saul Ostrow, Bomb Magazine, 85. Fall 2003. Web. Aug, 30 2016.
Ibid.

Lot Information:

Lot 261
Sol LeWitt
Untitled (Wavy Lines)
2004
Gouache on paper
Signed and dated in graphite lower right sheet
Sheet: 22.5″ x 30″
Provenance: Private Collection, Los Angeles, California (acquired directly from the artist)
Estimate: $18,000 – $25,000
October 9, 2016 Modern Art & Design Auction

Lot 262
Sol LeWitt
Curvy Brushstrokes (Color)
1997
Etching with color sugar lift aquatint with aquatint on Somerset Textured White paper
#1 of 10 artist’s proofs aside from the edition of 15
Published and printed by Crown Point Press, San Francisco
Signed lower right margin beneath image; edition lower left
Image: 29.75″ x 39.75″; Sheet (vis.): 38″ x 47.85″; Frame: 40.25″ x 50″
Sol LeWitt Catalogue Raisonné #1997.07
Provenance: Private Collection, Los Angeles, California (acquired directly from the artist);
Thence by descent
Estimate: $4,000 – $6,000
October 9, 2016 Modern Art & Design Auction

Lot 263
Sol LeWitt
Wavy Lines in All Directions, #8
1996
Monoprint with aquatint on paper
Unique
Printed by Watanabe Studio, Brooklyn
Signed and inscribed in graphite “LeWitt 8″ lower right margin of sheet
Image: 19.875″ x 19.875″; Sheet: 23.5″ x 23.325”
LAMA would like to thank Andrew Witkin, editor of the Sol LeWitt Prints Catalogue Raisonné for his assistance cataloguing this work
Provenance: Private Collection, Los Angeles, California (acquired directly from the artist)
Estimate: $1,500 – $2,000
October 9, 2016 Modern Art & Design Auction

Lot 264
Sol LeWitt
Complex Forms (pl. #3)
1990
Etching with aquatint on paper
1 of 2 unnumbered trial proofs aside from the edition of 27
Published by Osiris Editions, New York; printed by Peter Pettengill, Wingate Studios, Hinsdale
Signed and inscribed in graphite “Sol LeWitt TP/for Harold + Liz” lower right margin of sheet beneath image
Image: 29.25″ x 29.75″; Sheet (vis.): 34.25″ x 34.75″ ; Frame: 35.5″ x 36″
Sol LeWitt Catalogue Raisonné #1990.11
Provenance: Private Collection, Los Angeles, California (acquired directly from the artist);
Thence by descent
Estimate: $2,000 – $3,000
October 9, 2016 Modern Art & Design Auction

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