Five-Minute Tours: Sol LeWitt at UT Austin Landmarks

by Glasstire May 14, 2020
Sol LeWitt public art sculpture at UT Austin

Sol LeWitt, Circle with Towers, 2012. Photo: Mark Menjivar

Note: the following is part of Glasstire’s series of short videos, Five-Minute Tours, for which commercial galleries, museums, nonprofits and artist-run spaces across the state of Texas send us video walk-throughs of their current exhibitions. This will continue while the coronavirus situation hinders public access to exhibitions. Let’s get your show in front of an audience.

See other Five-Minute Tours here.

Circle with Towers and Wall Drawing # 520 are artworks by artist Sol LeWitt. Circle with Towers was purchased by Landmarks, UT’s public art program, and is installed in front of The Bill & Melinda Gates Computer Science Complex & Dell Computer Science Hall at UT Austin. Wall Drawing # 520 is installed in the North building of The Bill & Melinda Gates Computer Science Complex & Dell Computer Science Hall. 

The below video is for UT Landmarks, courtesy of GalleryLOG.

About Circle with Towers:

“Sol LeWitt, a pioneer of minimal and conceptual art, exhibited five structures in his first solo exhibition in 1965. With matter-of-fact titles like Floor Structure and Wall Structure, the rectangular black wood forms signaled his lifelong commitment to an elemental geometric vocabulary, as well as a sensitive consideration for the architectural context of his work. The wall is never merely a backdrop in LeWitt’s art; it assumes primary importance as a critical component in many of his three-dimensional structures and as the surface upon which his wall drawings are painted or drawn.

Circle with Towers is, in effect, a low circular wall capped at regular intervals by eight rectangular towers made of pale gray concrete blocks. The outdoor structure possesses a discernable logic and rhythm: the concrete towers are four blocks wide while the low walls between them are eight blocks wide—a perfect 1:2 ratio. The concrete block structures are laid by hand, one block at a time by local masons. Like many of LeWitt’s works, Circle with Towers demonstrates the artist’s generosity in welcoming others to interpret his work, including the artists and craftspeople who realize his artistic visions.

LeWitt introduced concrete block into his work in the 1980s. A humble material, it appealed to his interest in making art that privileged concepts over materials or surfaces. He also liked that the rectangular blocks could be stacked on end so that the cube, or square, becomes a repeating motif. While LeWitt’s work evolved in significant ways over the course of his career, the cube appears at each phase and in every medium, from sculpture to photography. The square and cube were both crucial elements in LeWitt’s vocabulary, both as elemental units and in reference to grids made by other artists throughout the twentieth century.”

About Wall Drawing # 520:

“During the 1980s, LeWitt produced many jewel-toned, ink-wash wall drawings like Wall Drawing # 520, dramatically expanding his repertoire from the pencil versions that predominated the first decade of his career. In this work—one of the few that the artist conceived for three walls—cubes float across the surface in rich, variegated colors. The palette and slight depth of the geometric figures attest to the artist’s interest in Italian Renaissance frescoes, one that was spurred by the artist’s move to Spoleto, Italy, in 1980.

While these works depart from the more muted palette and systematic logic of LeWitt’s early pencil wall drawings, they also reflect his continued interest in using the cube as a basic geometric element. Equally significant are the the tonal variations achieved in LeWitt’s ink wash wall drawings, which result from layering only primary colors and gray. While the spirit of Wall Drawing # 520 is one of modesty, simplicity, and restraint, the visual results are lush.”

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