Sol LeWitt - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Tuesday, October 11, 2011 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection

  • Catalogue Essay

    Executed in 1971, 5 Cubes Half-Off comprises five cubic forms, symmetrically arranged into a larger structure through repetition of the basic unit and resulting in the creation of a space within a space. Here, the basic unit, the cube, is, as the artist has said, “deliberately uninteresting”.

    LeWitt, the pioneer and one of the most prominent figures of Minimalist and Conceptualist art, made his first modular cube structure in 1965 for which he since become known. These works epitomise the simplicity of form that the artist was trying to achieve, giving greater importance to the ideas and concepts informing the work than the actual object itself: “what the work of art looks like isn’t too important. It has to look like something if it has physical form. No matter what form it may finally have it must begin with an idea. It is the process of conception and realization with which the artist is concerned” (Sol LeWitt, ‘Paragraphs on Conceptual Art’, Artforum, vol. 5, no. 10, 1967, pp. 79–83)

    This work belongs to the series of the ‘half-off’ sculptures, which also includes works with two half-off cubes and three half-off cubes, where the cubes are not aligned into a straight line, but are set against half of one’s side creating a zig-zag line. The artist always uses the same ratio of the width of the bars to the space they describe set at 1:8.5. The strict geometry is somehow softened by the shadows that are cast by the bars of the cubes. With the use of flat paint, the artist achieves the industrial quality of the piece and emphasises its skeletal nature.

    An art critic Rosalind Krauss describes LeWitt’s practice as “a world without a centre, a world of substitutions and transpositions nowhere legitimated by the revelations of a transcendental subject. This is the strength of his work, its seriousness, and its claim to modernity” (Rosalind Krauss, ‘LeWitt in Progress’, 1977 quoted in D. Batchelor, Minimalism, London, p. 70).

  • Artist Biography

    Sol LeWitt

    American • 1928 - 2007

    Connected to the Conceptual and Minimalist art movements of the 1960s and '70s, the artist and theorist Sol LeWitt was a pivotal figure in driving 'idea' art into the mainstream art discourse. Redefining what constituted a work of art and its genesis, LeWitt explored these ideas through wall drawings, paintings, sculptures, works on paper and prints.

    Using a prescription to direct the creation of a work, the artist's hand subordinated to the artist's thoughts, in direct contrast to the Abstract Expressionist movement earlier in the century. Actions, forms and adjectives were broken down into terms, serially repeated and reconfigured: grids, lines, shapes, color, directions and starting points are several examples. These directives and constructs fueled an influential career of vast variety, subtlety and progression.

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5 Cubes Half-Off

Painted wood.
20.4 × 29.2 × 94 cm (8 × 11 1/2 × 37 in).
Signed and dated ‘S. Lewitt 1971’ on the reverse. This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

£120,000 - 180,000 

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

12 October 2011