Saturday, September 27, 2008

Leaving LeWitt

Self-portrait with LeWitt at MOMA, New York, 2008.

A LeWitt mural is being painted out at MOMA, San Francisco, and many are up in arms at the loss of a seven-million-dollar artwork. It's difficult to comprehend that the artwork, in this case, is not the painting itself--which was not even done by Sol--but the instructions for creating it, which are written on a certificate.
It reminds me of another work I love in MOMA, NY, which is a framed drawing accompanied by a certificate from the artist stating that the object represented in the drawing is not a work of art, and nor is the drawing of the object. Yet the object itself, the drawing of it and the certificate are all hanging in an art gallery!
During the recent Biennale of Sydney, one of the artworks involved painting the walls of the Art Gallery black, then painting them white again. I heard lots of people complaining about this not being art, some even misunderstanding and suggesting that the art gallery should have done its renovations when there was not a major exhibition on.
I love the way these kinds of artworks (and I believe they are artworks) make me think, and reassess my view of life. They are transient, oxymoronic, futile, incomprehensible, and thought-provoking. I'm sad to think that San Franciscans are losing their LeWitt, but surely that sadness at its impermanence is part of the artist's intention in the first place? (Oh no, Mr Foucault, I didn't mean to talk about the artist's intention, sir, please don't haunt me!) If just one person stops to think about that, Sol LeWitt can rest easy in his grave.


Unknown said...

That's not a LeWitt, it's an Agnes Martin

beche-la-mer said...

You're absolutely right, John, it was at Buffalo Art Gallery that they had the LeWitt (diagonal lines) and I didn't take a picture of it. I misremembered...