Tower (DC), 1989, 2009
Sol LeWitt's Tower (DC) is as much a conceptual project as it is a physical structure. LeWitt was a leading voice within the Conceptual and Minimalist art movements that began in the 1960s, and he championed the idea of the art project over the finished object in his own artistic process. Challenging the long and distinguished tradition of the artist as authenticator of unique, valuable objects to be placed on pedestals for veneration, Conceptual artists like LeWitt often distanced themselves from the physical construction of the artwork and worked in multiples. For Tower (DC), LeWitt created a plan and a set of instructions for the "structure" (a term he preferred to sculpture) to be executed by others, allowing for the piece to be constructed many times in different locations. The geometrically regular monotone cement blocks comprising Tower (DC) visually and conceptually illustrate LeWitt's interest in modular structures, repeated gestures, and seriality that are characteristic of Minimalist art. "There is no need to invent new forms," the artist explained, "the square and cube are efficient and symmetrical." (1)
LeWitt rose to fame in the New York art scene in the late 1960s and 1970s alongside artists like Dan Flavin, Robert Ryman and Robert Mangold. The artist worked extensively in drawing, printmaking and sculpture for over four decades, and has been highlighted in more than 30 monographic museum retrospectives. Heralded as "a lodestar of modern American art," (2) LeWitt's long and prolific career came to a close with the artist's death in 2007. LeWitt's "structures" advocate equality, access, and exchange, and the artist's legacy as a Conceptual and Minimalist artist continues to inform and influence contemporary artists today.
1. Sol LeWitt, "Serial Project No. 1," Aspen, section 17, nos. 5—6, 1966.
2. Michael Kimmelman, "Sol LeWitt, Master of Conceptualism, Dies at 78," The New York Times, April 9, 2007.