Currently on View in W202
Wall Drawing No. 652 originally covered three walls surrounding a grand staircase that once connected the ground level with Herron Hall. The latest version is slightly brighter than the original one. Rather than using Pelican ink washes, which have been discontinued since the work first was executed in 1990, LeWitt closely matched the original ink colors with acrylic paints. In the old version, the inks required a coat of varnish, which faded over time. The new acrylic paints are unvarnished and as a result appear more vibrant.
LeWitt, a conceptual artist, once explained: “[The] idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.” LeWitt’s reasoning explains why the re-creation of the original drawing poses no threat to the integrity of the art work. The concept is the work of art, and the end result is “perfunctory.” LeWitt based both versions of the wall drawing on the same complex conceptual diagram. Aside from the change from inks to acrylics, the only difference in the new version is that it needed to be extended downward and outward to accommodate the larger expanse of wall surface.
In the original diagram, LeWitt plotted points randomly across the surface of the paper and then connected them intuitively with lines. A team of assistants (two from LeWitt’s studio, Tomas Ramberg and Sara Heinemann, and five local student technicians: Rachel Eckstein, George Ben Murray, Brittan Fowler, Kate Nickols and Joshua Aaron) then set about the complex and laborious process of plotting the design onto the walls. They also used LeWitt’s diagram to instruct them how to fill each form with particular combinations of red, yellow, blue and gray washes. All of the final colors in Wall Drawing No. 652 are unmixed and resulted from overlapping these pure washes of color.
The first work was funded by the Sutphin family in 1990; the family generously funded the re-creation of the work in 2005.