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Sol LeWitt
Wall Drawing #346
India ink (Seven geometric figures, including right triangle, drawn with India ink. The figures are filled in solid.)

Dimesions variable
First installed by Sol LeWitt, Guy Mazarguil, Laurent Mazarguil, Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris, February, 1981 Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, Paris Purchased in 1982 © Adagp, Paris 2012 © Centre Pompidou-Metz / Photos : Rémi Villaggi

Centre Pompidou-Metz

Excerpt from Centre Pompidou-Metz:

Sol LeWitt: Wall Drawings from 1968 to 2007
Centre Pompidou-Metz


The practice of wall drawing

Reminiscent of the fresco tradition of the Italian Renaissance, from the late 1960s, Sol LeWitt’s wall drawings marked a decisive development in the history of contemporary drawing in particular, and of art in general. Expressing thought processes which the artist conceived beforehand, the wall drawings are executed directly onto the walls on the scale of the exhibition venue. These wall drawings, executed on-site, exist for the duration of the exhibition they are then destroyed, giving the work in its physical form an ephemeral quality. Its content (or concept) remains however identical from one exhibition to the next.

LeWitt conceived the drawings to be executed by people other than himself. Professional assistants trained by the LeWitt studio, and drafters new to the process, are brought in to precisely follow LeWitt’s instructions and diagrams. As the artist stated back in 1967, “In conceptual art, the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work (…) and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes the machine that makes the art.” (Paragraphs on Conceptual Art, in Artforum, vol. 5, no. 10, June 1967, pp. 79-83). Like musicians performing a musical score, the draftsmen and women interpret, each time slightly differently and in their own way, the geometric formulae set out by LeWitt.

LeWitt’s wall drawings are based on:

  • a basic visual vocabulary of elementary geometric forms - straight, not straight, and broken lines, squares, arcs, circles, grids, etc. - which expanded towards more irregular, complex forms such as curves, loops and isometric figures

  • a range of diverse techniques using pencil, crayon, India ink, acrylic paint and graphite.

The choice of black and white

The Centre Pompidou-Metz has chosen to present thirty-three wall drawings by Sol LeWitt exclusively in black and white. This decision to show only black and white wall drawings also underlines the striking visual impact of LeWitt’s work. Depending on the materials and techniques used, the powerful contrast between black and white, or the more subtle contrast of various shades of gray, stresses the structure and the optical effects that bring the works to life, from the subtle vibration of pencil lines to the sustained cadence of flat areas of black and white in acrylic, through soft variations of ink washes.

An exhibition in partnership with art schools in north-east France

The execution of the wall drawings at the Centre Pompidou-Metz is an exceptional opportunity for young artists and students in north-east France to work alongside professional draftsmen from the LeWitt studio.

The execution of the wall drawings has involved:

  • 65 students from four schools: École Supérieure dArt de Lorraine, Metz-Epinal, ENS Architecture de Nancy, École Nationale Supérieure dArt de Nancy, ESAD de Reims/École Supérieure dArt et de Design

  • 13 young artists

  • 7 professional assistants.

For each wall drawing, a team is appointed around a professional assistant who supports and guides those new to the process. The professional supervises each team throughout the execution of the drawing and, where the degree of difficulty of the piece allows, endeavors to let them work autonomously. The students have two types of responsibility: preparation of the tools and the actual execution of the drawings to the artists instructions.


In conjunction with the exhibition, the Centre Pompidou-Metz is publishing a 480-page catalog, with editions in French and in English. This comprehensive publication aims to become a new reference work on Sol LeWitt, as most monographic books about the artist are now out-of-print.

The catalog will be published in September 2012.

Sol LeWitt
Catalog directed by Béatrice Gross
Published by Centre Pompidou-Metz
In partnership with M-Museum, Leuven (Belgium)
Published in September 2012
480 pages, bound, €49.90

French: ISBN 978-2-35983-017-0
English: ISBN 978-2-35983-018-7

Sol LeWitt: Wall Drawings 1968-2007 in Galerie 2 of the Centre Pompidou-Metz has been conceived and developed in close collaboration with the LeWitt Collection (Chester, Connecticut).


Additional Information

Sol Lewitt: Selected Biographies on Art in Context

Sol Lewitt: Related Links on Art in Context


Sol Lewitt, American, (1928-2007)
b. September 9, 1928, Hartford, CT
d. 2007

Art in Context - Projects:
Art in Context - Art for the Day: September 9

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