Sol LeWitt; Known For Wall Paintings

(By Richard Drew -- Associated Press)
Associated Press
Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sol LeWitt, 78, an artist known for his dynamic wall paintings and as a founder of minimal and conceptual art styles, died April 8 in New York. He had complications from cancer.

Much of his art was based on variations of spheres, triangles and other basic geometric shapes. His sculptures commonly were based on cubes, using precise, measured formats and carefully developed variations.

Mr. LeWitt preferred to let his work speak for itself and frequently avoided media attention.

By the mid-1960s, Mr. LeWitt had begun to experiment with wall drawings. The idea was considered radical, in part because he knew the drawings would be painted over eventually and destroyed.

Mr. LeWitt believed that the idea of his work superseded the art itself, Andrea Miller-Keller, a former Hartford, Conn., curator, told the Hartford Courant. "The essence of LeWitt's work is the original idea as formulated in the artist's mind."

Mr. LeWitt's first wall drawing, part of a 1968 display in New York, was so striking that the gallery owner couldn't bear to paint over it. She insisted Mr. LeWitt come and do it himself, which he did without hesitation.

Mr. LeWitt completed a traditional art program at Syracuse University in 1949, telling a reporter later that he studied art because he "didn't know what else to do."

Mr. LeWitt, born in Hartford, was in the Army for two years during the Korean War, serving in non-combat positions in California, Japan and Korea.

He moved to New York in 1953 and held a variety of short-term jobs, including working as a night receptionist at the Museum of Modern Art. His first solo art show was at the John Daniels Gallery in New York in 1965, and he taught at several New York art schools.

Mr. LeWitt lived for much of the 1980s in Spoleto, Italy, before returning to Connecticut in the late 1980s.

Survivors include his wife, Carol, and two daughters.

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