The Writing on the Walls: Sol Lewitt at Dia:Beacon

The Writing on the Walls: Sol Lewitt at Dia:Beacon
Sometimes it’s good to get out of New York City—especially when your getaway leads you to Dia:Beacon.Only an hour and a bit away, the venue has become the art world’sultimate playground for larger-than-life sculptures and installations.

Set up between the Dan Flavin light field and the Richard Serrasteel court, the latest temporary exhibition “Drawing Series…” (throughSept. 10, 2007) is devoted to 1970s drawings by conceptual artist Sol Lewitt.Drawn directly on the walls using graphite, colored pencil, crayon andchalk, the works, based on Lewitt’s complex principles, eliminate theboundaries of the canvas for more sprawling constructions.

For this show, two teams of assistants invaded the spacefor three months, following the artist’s exact instructions to realizethe drawings. Each wall carries a unique series of lines and marks in adelicate city of networking designs.

Wall Drawing #97 (they now number 1,200 in total) carries the following rules for his assistants: “Ten thousand straight and ten thousand not straight lines—thus offering up two intricate drawings founded on thoughtful concepts and laborious making.

Wall Drawing #118 calls for “Fifty randomly placed points all connected by straight lines.” The layering in this piece creates a happenstance gathering of lines, forming beautiful variations in thickness.

These days, Lewitt wall drawings have become common sightsin museum collections, and some may have tired of the paint-by-numbersroutine that the artist has made a career of. But the combination ofthe soft, thoughtful drawings with the cathedral-esque natural light ofDia:Beacon reinvigorates a viewer's response to the work. Especiallywhen soaking up Wall Drawing #1085: Drawing Series—Composite, Part I–IV, #1–24, A+B, which is the only piece from the show also in Dia’s permanent collection.

In this drawing, Lewitt takes all the versions and patternsof a line (horizontal, vertical and diagonal) and creates two rooms ofgrids, tackling every possible combination. The first room handles thesingular lines and the second addresses the conjunctions of thesingulars.

Next door, Wall Drawing #1211 takes the same conceptbut introduces color. The singulars turn into walls of dreamyprimaries, while the second room carries rich autumnal elements. As theday progresses, the works morph and play on the daylight changes. Andthe ultimate test of geometry turns into a luminous sanctuary.