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Sol LeWitt and Instruction-based Art

Are instructions just a set of rules, or can they fuel creativity? Learn more in this exploration of the work of Sol LeWitt.


Serial Forms and Repetition

Explore the importance of seriality and repetition in Minimalist art.


Serial Project, I (ABCD)

Sol LeWitt
(American, 1928–2007)

1966. Baked enamel on steel units over baked enamel on aluminum, 20" x 13' 7" x 13' 7" (50.8 x 398.9 x 398.9 cm)

Conceptual art emphasizes ideas over a physical product, and Sol LeWitt starts Serial Project, I with the idea rather than the form, initiating a process that obeys certain rules, and determines the form by playing itself out. Serial Project, I shows the combinations of both open and closed enameled aluminum squares, cubes, and extensions of all these shapes laid in a grid.

LeWitt’s system of organization gives its viewers all the clues they need to solve the puzzle of its logic. “The aim of the artist would not be to instruct the viewer but to give him information,” wrote LeWitt in a text accompanying this work. The basic forms and industrial materials of Serial Project, I (ABCD) and the idea that gives form to the work of art make it a combination of both Conceptualist and Minimalist principles.

The form or condition in which an object exists or appears.

An artistic movement of the 1960s in which artists produced pared-down three-dimensional objects devoid of representational content. Their new vocabulary of simplified, geometric forms made from humble industrial materials challenged traditional notions of craftsmanship, the illusion of spatial depth in painting, and the idea that a work of art must be one of a kind.

An element or substance out of which something can be made or composed.

The shape or structure of an object.

A type of paint made from very fine pigments and resin that form a glossy surface. Also, the application of this paint to a material in order to create a smooth and glossy surface.

Art that emerged in the late 1960s, emphasizing ideas and theoretical practices rather than the creation of visual forms. In 1967, the artist Sol LeWitt gave the new genre its name in his essay “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art,” in which he wrote, “The idea itself, even if not made visual, is as much a work of art as any finished product.”

Say What?
Le Witt said: “The serial artist does not attempt to produce a beautiful or mysterious object but functions merely as a clerk cataloging the results of his premise.”

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Serial Project, I (ABCD)

Sol LeWitt (American, 1928–2007)