artist / participant
The exhibition space of the Botín Foundation in Santander will host the exhibition Sol LeWitt: 17 Wall Drawings, 1970–2015 from 18 July to 10 January 2016. Organized in collaboration with the Yale University Art Gallery and the Estate of Sol LeWitt, it is Spain's most ambitious exhibition to date devoted entirely to Wall Drawings by one of the leading lights of 20th century art who is regarded as the father of Conceptual Art.
The exhibition—curated by John Hogan, Director of Installations and Archivist of Wall Drawings at the Yale University Art Gallery who, since 1982, worked as a drawer for Sol LeWitt; and by Benjamin Weil, Artistic Director of the Botín Centre—will offer visitors a unique view of the stylistic and conceptual development of wall drawing in the artist's oeuvre.
Sixteen of the Wall Drawings from the selection on display in the exhibition, executed between 1970 and 2015, have never been shown before in Spain—only the seventeenth drawing was previously shown here in 1989—and most of them have never been shown again since they were first made more than twenty years ago. In addition, Wall Drawing 7A will be executed for the first time in the Botín Foundation's exhibition space.
Sol LeWitt: 17 Wall Drawings, 1970–2015 revolves around one of LeWitt's basic theoretical principles which has since then become widespread in the practice of contemporary visual art: namely, the supremacy of the idea and of the creative process over the work of art proper. As the artist himself pointed out: "The idea is the machine that makes the work of art."
Additionally, the collection of Wall Drawings on show in Santander reflects the extraordinary consistency of LeWitt's systematic explorations and the notable diversity and evolution of his artistic praxis, both from a stylistic point of view (from his simple geometric figures to "continuous" and "complex" forms) and in terms of the variety of media used (graphite, colour pencils, India Ink and acrylic paint).
Apart from the works on view in the exhibition space, visitors will be able to view Wall Drawing #499 (Flat-topped pyramid with color ink washes superimposed), 1986, originally installed in the conference hall of the Botín Foundation in Santander in 1992, which is to be re-installed for this exhibition.
Sol LeWitt devoted a substantial part of his career to producing books, publications, prints and other multiples. The Archivo Lafuente, a key international documentary collection specializing in 20th century art, has collaborated to complement the exhibition with a selection of artist books that will help visitors contextualize LeWitt's Wall Drawings with the rest of his oeuvre. Lastly, a relevant collection of documents related to the artist and his work will be on display in the exhibition.
The show will be accompanied by an exhibition catalogue collecting some of Sol LeWitt's writings, alongside several texts by experts and personal recollections by contributing artists. The exhibition's curator Benjamin Weil has made the selection, which explores the artist's development and oeuvre.
Sol LeWitt: 17 Wall Drawings, 1970–2015 reaffirms the Botín Foundation's ongoing commitment to research into the genre of drawing (which up to this point has focussed on Spanish artists) and it directs the spotlight back onto an exploration of the creative process, which is a key aspect of the institution's training programme that includes the Visual Arts Grants and the Villa Iris Workshops, given by international artists.
Sol LeWitt was a key player in the establishment of Conceptual Art, a movement that has made a deep and lasting mark on contemporary artistic praxis. At the beginning of the 1960s, artists distanced themselves from the predominant Abstract Expressionism and conferred equal, or even greater importance, to the creative process leading to the work of art than the resultant work of art itself, thus separating the concept or idea from its execution.