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A Major Sol LeWitt Retrospective at Mass MoCA

Rural Intelligence Arts

Sol LeWitt, one of the most influential artists of the last half century, so opposed the notion of artist-as-celebrity, it’s hard to imagine, had he lived, how he would have grappled with the opening this weekend at MASS MoCA.  Never mind that the exhibition is a landmark retrospective of forty years of his “wall drawings,” that it will be the sole occupant of a 3-story former mill on the Mass MoCA campus that was renovated expressly for this purpose, or that the museum has committed to keeping the exhibition up for a minimum of 25 years. Never mind that, before his death in 2007, LeWitt oversaw and approved every detail of this massive installation.  Never mind. If operating true to form, LeWitt would have laid low this weekend, and discouraged media interest by refusing all photo ops and interviews.

Sol LeWitt, a leading exponent of conceptual and minimalist art, stressed the idea behind his work over its execution.  To drive the point home, he or, as often, his assistants would draw and paint directly on the wall of the exhibition venue, thus rendering that particular expression of the piece temporary.  Once a show was over, the work would be painted over with a roller.  If a museum or private collector wished to acquire it, another would be made on site.

Jock Reynolds, of the Yale University Art Gallery, who conceived the MASS MoCA installation with LeWitt, explains, “Until now, large displays of Sol’s wall drawings have of necessity been on view for relatively brief periods of time in major museum survey exhibitions. To see multiple LeWitt wall drawings, one has had to travel far and wide and spend years pursuing them individually in situ. At MASS MoCA, visitors will be able to return again and again to see and enjoy one hundred of his wall drawings in one location.”

MASS MoCA’s decision to hold this Saturday’s members-only opening in the afternoon from 2 to 5, when daylight is still streaming into the galleries and the work looks its most radiant, rather than at the early-evening hour customary for openings, seems particularly LeWitt-like.  What “celebrity” worthy of the name would deign to appear at such an hour?

87 Marshall Street, North Adams; 413.662.2111
Members’ reception: Saturday, November 15, 2 - 5
Public opening: Sunday, November 16, ceremony at noon.
Daily (closed Tuesdays), 11 - 5
Admission: $15 non-members, except Sundays/free; members/free (including November 15 reception).
Memberships: $50 and up

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 11/10/08 at 07:50 AM • Permalink