Solomon “Sol” LeWitt was an American artist who was considered to be a pioneer in the art-making world, for both minimalistic and conceptual art-making practice. LeWitt came to earn his place in history in regards to forging new ground for the creation and understanding of conceptual art. Coming from a background where his parents held careers far from anything creative, LeWitt’s mother still brought him along to art classes. It was at that time LeWitt came to believe in his own perception of art and how art should be executed. LeWitt became more focused on the idea and concepts behind an artwork rather than the traditional forms of sketching and painting.
An audience may not interpret all artwork in the same way, but they will appreciate the concept behind it all the same. LeWitt’s artworks focus on instructions as the subject as the audience responds with procedural action.
LeWitt’s ‘Wall Drawing #118’ consists of a what appears to be a simple set of instructions. In fact, the instructions may be simple but after attempting to carry out the set guidelines the execution required to follow these directions is a more involved process then one would initially assume.
Below is an example of LeWitt’s instructional art:
These various creations are stemmed from the set of instructions, completed by various individuals:
Shifreen, Sizemore, Snyder, Sutro, Whittredge (2015-2016)
Personally after attempting to follow various instructions written by LeWitt on a smaller scale, it was unveiled to me how intricate the directions are. They read so simply that over-thinking begins to occur. When following the directions fully, creating an artwork will take endless hours. When I first read over the specific set of instructions I intended to produce something from I visualised how I was going to achieve that. I put a pencil to paper and followed the instructions before me what I thought was perfectly. I paused for a moment when the drawing didn’t seem to be reaching what I desired. This was because I imagined the finished product to be so much more complex than it actually was.
A question raised is if LeWitt’s instructions can even be classified as art when in reality it just contains paragraphs of text. Contemporary art is thought to be abstract at times, but if the artwork at hand could by some viewers be considered more along the lines of literature, where does one make the decision?
In this circumstance, it’s essential to come back to the original idea behind the ‘artwork’. LeWitt saw his instructions as his form as art, not only because that what the intended outcome when he wrote them but also because of the finished product that emerged when the instructions had been carried out.
LeWitt’s creative work functions is such a way that makes the audience feel involved with the final result, leaving them feel included and important. In 2013, I experienced a similar project at the Art Gallery of NSW where visitors were given a set of simple instructions and could then go on to contribute to an artwork fully created by the community.
One of the best results from LeWitt’s variable yet direct artworks is that no two productions from the audience will be the same. As mentioned earlier, most people do not interpret art the same way. This is because every individual on this planet has a brain that functions differently. People will picture and imagine completed tasks uniquely – which I believe is an extremely wonderful thing.
In my Meda102 workshops – we have been given simple instructions and even though many different groups were performing the same job, no group produced the same final outcome. This also created friction in the group itself because everyone thought the activity should be done the way that they imagined instead of what someone else thought of – because a person’s initial idea makes the most sense to them. It was interesting to observe the thought patterns of each individual in the room. What made complete sense to one person didn’t resonate at all with the next. I felt I was staring at my group constantly wondering what was going on while I kept asking what all of these rapidly appearing strange symbols meant. It’s most definitely a unique and interesting experience for everyone involved.
LeWitt’s practice containing his instructions followed by audience involvement with procedural actions allow his legacy to be carried on by many intrigued artists and creative minds alike.
The Art Story, Sol LeWitt, accessed 18/08/2016, http://www.theartstory.org/artist-lewitt-sol.htm
Art Gallery NSW, Sol LeWitt, accessed 18/08/2016, http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/exhibitions/sol-lewitt/
MoMALearning, Conceptual Art, accessed 18/08/2016, https://www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/themes/conceptual-art/sol-lewitt-and-instruction-based-art
National Gallery of Art, Sol LeWitt’s Concepts and Structures, accessed 18/08/2016, http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/education/teachers/lessons-activities/new-angles/sol-lewitt.html
LeWitt S, 1971, Wall Drawing #118, accessed 18/08/2016
Shifreen D, Sizemore W, Snyder G, Sutro R, Whittredge D 2015-2016, Wall Drawing 118: 50 randomly placed points connected by straight lines, 17 Wall Drawings 1970-2015, accessed 18/08/2016,
Doeringer, E 2009, Sol LeWitt Wall Drawing 118, Eric Doeringer: Sol LeWitt, accessed 18/08/2016,