some nice thing written about an excellent artists
04/12/2007 - countytimes.com
Sol LeWitt, a Modern Master, Left a Vibrant Mark on the County
By: Nancy Barnes
"Actually, [artist] Eva Hesse, she introduced me to Sol," said sculptor and Roxbury resident Tom Doyle Monday of his 55-year friendship with Sol LeWitt, as the recent death of the art world giant elicited memories from the Connecticut native's Litchfield County associates, both old and new.
"He was very comfortable. He was very self-possessed and self-assured. He was very, very self-assured," Mr. Doyle said of Mr. LeWitt. "It was never cold. I never felt he was cold. It was not over-intellectualized. It was not confrontational. It was very understandable," he said of a body of work that remains inextricably intertwined with serial, repetitive minimalist art and the conceptualist art that, in short order, flourished.
At mid-career, Mr. LeWitt introduced printer's ink colors into his geometric schemes. Subsequently, the waves and grids that covered walls and Mr. LeWitt's more modestly sized goauches gained their palette from the basic hues of reds, yellows, blues and also black.
Born in Hartford, Mr. LeWitt, who died last Sunday at age 78 in New York from cancer, grew up in New Britain. While spending his later years at his home in Chester, he exhibited at the New Arts Gallery in Litchfield.
"'You have to see the new Sol LeWitt exhibition. It's phenomenal. There are 30 new works in this show,'" Tony Carretta, who owns the New Arts Gallery, has recalled a visitor to Litchfield County as saying. The exhortation, he continued, was met with, "Where is it, at the Met or MOMA? The reply was 'No, it's ten minutes from here, across from the Bunnell's Farm at New Arts Gallery.'"
"His whole philosophy was, the concept was more important than the actual thing," said Mr. Carretta, who noted Monday he had invited Mr. LeWitt to do the show that elicited the visitor's response with its 30 gouaches and models for large, site-specific structures. Mr. LeWitt also participated in some of Mr. Carretta's group shows, among them his highly touted exhibition on drawing.
"To me, he was part of the last generation of modern masters. Those were the guys that made an impact in the art world in our age. They had a very definite direction that they were exploring, and it changed the whole dynamics of the art world. Since then, it's kind of been a regurgitation of what came before. ... They were young artists that were coming through that were redefining what art was. They were all part of the same circle," he said, thinking back to the Abstract-Expressionists who put America on top of the heap in the art world in the 1950s, with American Pop and then minimalist and conceptualist artists like Mr. LeWitt following.
Mr. Carretta described Mr. LeWitt as a "pretty down-to-earth, regular guy. You would not know if you met him his stature in the art world. When we did go to lunch, he usually talked about his kids. He was a regular guy."
Mr. Doyle met Mr. LeWitt in the early 1960s when Mr. LeWitt was working on his acclaimed "Muybridge Series," works that were named after the British photographer Eadweard Muybridge, who studied sequence and motion. He recalled the work schedule the young artist, who then worked as a night receptionist at the Museum of Modern Art, maintained.
Up at 5 a.m., according to Mr. Doyle, he would work until noon, and then make his way up to MOMA, visiting different people.
"I used to get him to help me do things," said Mr. Doyle, who observed that persons have traveled to Europe to avoid helping him move. "I think he helped us move when we moved from Fifth Avenue to the Bowery. That was a marathon," said the sculptor, whose large, stretching works require heavy tools.
Mr. LeWitt went to Europe after earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Syracuse University. There, he saw works by the Old Masters. Living in Italy in the 1980s, color began to infuse his works-among them, pieces in an exhibition Mr. Doyle saw in Amsterdam.
"These were Piero della Francesca colors," Mr. Doyle said, referring to the Early Renaissance painter who loved geometry and to whose palette, he said, Mr. LeWitt gave an Umbrian cast. "[Mr. LeWitt] transported the rooms by the way he used the forms. It wasn't drastic or upsetting. It was very beautiful," he said of an artist whose early structures were created of white enamel and whose wall drawings, of which 1,200 were executed during his lifetime, extended across surfaces primarily in graphite and white.
"Once he was able to move from minimalism and keep his center, it wasn't like a big jump," said Mr. Doyle of Mr. LeWitt's capacity to maintain one sensibility throughout his long career.
According to Mr. Doyle, however, Mr. LeWitt's private collection was eclectic. "It was very universal. It was what he liked."
Among Mr. LeWitt's last major exhibitions was one organized by the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford entitled "Incomplete Cubes," in which 122 aluminum cubes were placed throughout the museum's permanent collection, as well as a retrospective organized by the San Francisco Museum of Art that traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago as well as the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
"He was very unassuming. He had a great internal presence. He had a very calming effect on people. He was very stable and trustworthy," said Mr. Doyle, who also praised Mr. LeWitt's generosity. "I'll miss him a lot."