Sourcing Compilations of Sol Lewitt Instructions
October 18, 2015 8:08 PM   Subscribe

Sol Lewitt is famous for his instruction-based art. I'd like to find as many of his instructions as possible.

Through obvious sources (e.g., online courses in the field, museums that have his works) and googling, I've found instructions for a few dozen works, but there are a lot more instructions out there (for example, this implies that he made at least 1136 wall drawings). So far, the best compilation I've found is Solving Sol, which is a really cool project but only has about 30 instructions.

Do you know where I can find compilations of his instructions?
posted by benbenson to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
My wife worked at Mass MoCA briefly and knows her Sol LeWitt. She thinks it's unlikely that the instructions are published in their entirety anywhere, as they have to be licensed from the LeWitt estate in order to be (legally) executed. I would suggest that you contact Pace Gallery, who represent LeWitt's estate, and see what they say; if the instructions have indeed been published somewhere, they would probably know about it.
posted by Johnny Assay at 6:05 AM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

In many of the Sol Lewitt wall drawings I've seen the instructions have been posted. You could start combing through the image archives of museums that own Sol Lewitts.

I'm with Johnny Assay's wife. I'm doubtful that there's a complete collection of instructions.
posted by gregr at 7:37 AM on October 19, 2015

I'd like to find as many of his instructions as possible.

You're never going to get anywhere near a "complete" set of instructions, but you could start with Sol's Print Catalogue Raisonné -- with the understanding that this is just the prints, not the drawings or the wall drawings -- to get a sense of what your job looks like.

Many of Sol's important prints and drawings from the 1970s included the instructions for creation in the works. So, for example, you have works like this, that have a little blurb that is actually part of the work describing how the drawing was created geometrically: "All Double Combinations (Superimposed) of Six Geometric Figures (Circle, Square, Triangle, Rectangle, Trapezoid and Parallelogram)." And then you have works like this where Sol has handwritten the instructions for creating the drawing inside the figures that make up the drawing itself. (In that case, it's an etching, so everything is backwards.) Here's another one of those, this time with lines.

So yes, there are wall drawing instructions out there, but there are also thousands of other sources of "instructions" from Sol. You may want to define your scope some.
posted by The Bellman at 9:54 AM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Would Pulitzer-winning composer Caroline Shaw's vocal piece, Allemande, be an appropriate contribution to your quest?

Repeating the liner notes, it "opens with the organized chaos of square dance calls overlapping with technical wall drawing directions of the artist Sol LeWitt, suddenly congealing into a bright, angular tune that never keeps its feet on the ground for very long. There are allusions to the movement’s intended simulation of motion and space in the short phrases of text throughout, which are sometimes sung and sometimes embedded as spoken texture."
posted by seawallrunner at 1:12 AM on October 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Months later follow-up for posterity. I found a few dozen more instructions through elbow/google grease, but the best compilations of instructions by far are in his multiple-volume Wall Drawings Books. I'm working on a related project and will post it in Projects when it's ready for unveiling!
posted by benbenson at 7:28 PM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

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