Pace Galleries

Largest Commissioned Sol LeWitt Scribble Drawing is Completed

An ambitious installation of the largest commissioned scribble drawing by American artist Sol LeWitt, a pioneer in the development of Minimalism and Conceptual art in the 1960s and 1970s, has been completed at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. The stairwell that connects the Gallery’s 1962 Knox Building and 1905 Albright Building, has been dramatically transformed by the work. The drawing, named Wall Drawing #1268: Scribbles: Staircase (AKAG), conceived2006, executed 2010, will remain on view indefinitely. The installation has taken sixteen artists, working seven hours per day, a total of fifty-two days to complete, and its scribble marks of varying density cover more than 2,200 square feet of space. Gallery Director Louis Grachos began discussing the monumental commission with the artist in 2006. Just before the artist’s death in 2007, LeWitt envisioned the work specifically for the Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s stairwell. The finished work realizes the artist’s simple instruction: Line. Continuous gradation and feel of steel. LeWitt believed that the idea, the concept, the instructions, and the logic could be the reference point for a work of art. He realized that given his specific instructions, anyone could follow his plans to execute his works of art. Following his vision, the work at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery has been installed by five master draftsmen from the artist’s studio, leading a crew of eleven, including Albright-Knox Art Gallery staff members and hired apprentices. In the 1960s, LeWitt embraced an idea that was then radical: that the concept behind a work of art was as important as its physical form. Using only pencil-drawn lines, LeWitt would create an idea for their arrangement to be executed following his written instructions. The idea was paramount. The artist commented, “The idea becomes the machine that makes the art.” The idea for the Albright-Knox’s work is based on a complex matrix of graphite scribbles built up to suggest tubular shapes that modulate in horizontal and vertical directions, vacillating between vectors of black and white. Conceptually simple, yet enormously complicated and time-consuming to execute, the final drawing combines modernist industrial references with a somber and romantic vision. In keeping with LeWitt’s intention to marry drawing to architecture, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery wall drawing, as it unfurls in an expansive space, engulfs the viewer as it signifies chaos amidst order. Although wall drawings represent the foundation of his practice, LeWitt’s works on paper, sculptures, artist’s books, and writings on Conceptual art were equally important to his oeuvre. In celebration of this monumental project, an exhibition of work from the Gallery’s Collection is currently on view. REMIX:Sol LeWitt complements and illuminates the wall-drawing project. Consisting of a range of works on paper and books by the artist, as well as ephemera and other materials, it provides additional context and reflects the Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s long-standing interest in the work of this seminal artist.
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