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Sol LeWitt. Squares with a Different Line Direction in Each Half Square. 1971

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Sol LeWitt (American, 1928–2007)

The Portfolio

Squares with a Different Line Direction in Each Half Square

Portfolio of ten etchings
each plate: 7 3/16 x 7 5/16" (18.3 x 18.6 cm); each sheet: 14 7/16 x 14 3/8" (36.7 x 36.5 cm)
Parasol Press, New York, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT
Crown Point Press, Oakland
Credit Line:
Gift of the artist, Parasol Press, and the Wadsworth Atheneum
MoMA Number:
© 2015 Sol LeWitt / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Deborah Wye, Artists and Prints: Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2004, p. 194

Sol LeWitt brings his conceptual aesthetic to every medium he explores, from sculpture to wall drawing to his prolific work as a printmaker. Beginning in the mid-1960s, with a simple artistic vocabulary of lines and cubes, LeWitt used systems to devise an art free from stylistic and iconographic associations. It was the ideas that underlie and inform these systems that became the content of his work. Prints and portfolios have been an exceptionally fertile vehicle for him to experiment with such conceptual strategies and have become an integral part of his overall approach. He has completed nearly three hundred editioned print projects and more than fifty artist's books as his work evolved from rigorous studies of straight lines and primary colors to looser investigations of curving forms and luscious overlapping tones.

LeWitt was immediately drawn to etching because of its inherently linear nature, which allowed for extended exploration of his compositional ideas. In this first portfolio of etchings, from 1971, he printed the entire series of ten works from only two plates, rotating and overprinting them in various configurations, incorporating the printing process into his systemic approach.

Since the mid-1980s he has repeatedly depicted three-dimensional forms in his wall drawings and works on paper. In a recent tour-de-force series of five linoleum cuts, he distorts, elongates, and compresses the cube in a Mannerist study of perspective and shape. The twenty-one cubes were carved on separate blocks, which were then assembled like a jigsaw puzzle into a rectangular frame. Each print in the series reflects one of four possible configurations of the twenty-one blocks with concurrent changes in color. In typical LeWitt fashion, he experimented with printmaking's flexibility by also creating a black-and-gray version of one of the four to complete the series.

Wendy Weitman

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