Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sol LeWitt is gone (to the heaven).

Much has been written on Sol LeWitt´s work. Instead of adding something that others can better say I prefer just to reproduce his Sentences on Conceptual Art (First published in 1969), that became a key moment on the idea of art today.

The structures he explored on his works derived from elements of the cube and its drawings on wall redefined the parameters of the art in years 70, and continue to influence the artists of the new generations for their simplicity and for their Metaphysical aura.

It´s interesting for us, digital artists, to see how the concepts of LeWitt can be explored (and extended) in the work of programmers-artists like Casey Reas.

About the possibility that Sol left to the heaven - and not to the hell - I assume it due the "Clarity, beauty, playfulness. Simplicity, logic, openness. The words that come to mind when describing the work of Sol LeWitt resonate with essential aesthetic and intellectual values. His works are straightforward and legible. Yet, upon closer observation and consideration, even those that initially appear direct and obvious reveal complex subtlety in decision-making. Intellectual substance is paired with visual delight, both of which seep into one's consciousness."

Isn´t that enough to take a man to the heaven:-)?
Goodbye Sol, world isn´t anymore so beautiful as it was when you still were among us.

The fundamental sentences:

1. Conceptual artists are mystics rather than rationalists. They leap to conclusions that logic cannot reach.

2. Rational judgements repeat rational judgements.

3. Irrational judgements lead to new experience.

4. Formal art is essentially rational.

5. Irrational thoughts should be followed absolutely and logically.

6. If the artist changes his mind midway through the execution of the piece he compromises the result and repeats past results.

7. The artist's will is secondary to the process he initiates from idea to completion. His wilfulness may only be ego.

8. When words such as painting and sculpture are used, they connote a whole tradition and imply a consequent acceptance of this tradition, thus placing limitations on the artist who would be reluctant to make art that goes beyond the limitations.

9. The concept and idea are different. The former implies a general direction while the latter is the component. Ideas implement the concept.

10. Ideas can be works of art; they are in a chain of development that may eventually find some form. All ideas need not be made physical.

11. Ideas do not necessarily proceed in logical order. They may set one off in unexpected directions, but an idea must necessarily be completed in the mind before the next one is formed.

12. For each work of art that becomes physical there are many variations that do not.

13. A work of art may be understood as a conductor from the artist's mind to the viewer's. But it may never reach the viewer, or it may never leave the artist's mind.

14. The words of one artist to another may induce an idea chain, if they share the same concept.

15. Since no form is intrinsically superior to another, the artist may use any form, from an expression of words (written or spoken) to physical reality, equally.

16. If words are used, and they proceed from ideas about art, then they are art and not literature; numbers are not mathematics.

17. All ideas are art if they are concerned with art and fall within the conventions of art.

18. One usually understands the art of the past by applying the convention of the present, thus misunderstanding the art of the past.

19. The conventions of art are altered by works of art.

20. Successful art changes our understanding of the conventions by altering our perceptions.

21. Perception of ideas leads to new ideas.

22. The artist cannot imagine his art, and cannot perceive it until it is complete.

23. The artist may misperceive (understand it differently from the artist) a work of art but still be set off in his own chain of thought by that misconstrual.

24. Perception is subjective.

25. The artist may not necessarily understand his own art. His perception is neither better nor worse than that of others.

26. An artist may perceive the art of others better than his own.

27. The concept of a work of art may involve the matter of the piece or the process in which it is made.

28. Once the idea of the piece is established in the artist's mind and the final form is decided, the process is carried out blindly. There are many side effects that the artist cannot imagine. These may be used as ideas for new works.

29. The process is mechanical and should not be tampered with. It should run its course.

30. There are many elements involved in a work of art. The most important are the most obvious.

31. If an artist uses the same form in a group of works, and changes the material, one would assume the artist's concept involved the material.

32. Banal ideas cannot be rescued by beautiful execution.

33. It is difficult to bungle a good idea.

34. When an artist learns his craft too well he makes slick art.

35. These sentences comment on art, but are not art.


Blogger Tim said...

I guess they don't call him Solomon for nothing!

33 and 34, I really like. I have often found it impossible to improve something I've already done, but found it almost effortless to create something interesting out of a new idea.

We need more people who can present great ideas in short sentences.

32 is very important. Unfortunately, I think the problem is that most people don't recognize the banal because so often it's presented as the best, and artists then blame themselves for their lack of sucess as artists when their failure really comes from trying to imitate the "best".

4/15/2007 2:37 PM

Blogger Philip Northover said...

All of interest.

I like 13.

I've noticed 18 before when looking at Bosch. Most of his references were clear at the time, but today are utterly strange and fantastic, which to me makes them all the more compelling.

25 can be attributed to instinct, but I think it's spiritual rapport with God, as though He's saying, "Do it that way!" (Sorry, atheists!)

33, difficult, but not impossible.

34, slick art counterbalances the hack jobs. I like to think I can see the beauty in both. :-)

4/16/2007 10:53 AM

Blogger cruelanimal said...

29 seems to have ramifications for fractal artists. Should the software/formula find its own way -- or should the artist intervene? Is post-processing somehow less "mechanical" than not post-processing? Beats me.

25 rings true. I remember reading about a student questioning poet Robert Frost after he had just read "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." The student wanted to explicate why Frost had repeated the line "and miles to go before I sleep" twice at the poem's close. The student said something like wasn't it true that the first time was a literal reference -- as in miles to go before reaching home and putting the horse in the barn -- and the second time was metaphorical -- as in sleeping the sleep of death? The student then sat down probably feeling he had seen into the heart of the poem. Frost scratched his head, paused, and supposedly said: "Oh, I don't know. It just sounded good."

As the late Kurt Vonnegut used to say: So it goes.

4/16/2007 1:54 PM

Blogger Guido Cavalcante said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4/17/2007 10:16 AM

Blogger Guido Cavalcante said...

I would like to add some more on the idea of this thing called Conceptual Art:

First, Conceptual Art is not necessarily logical since ideas can be logical in conception but illogical on their perception. In this sense the logic of a piece is an instrument used to infer a paradoxical situation.

Second, ideas must not be complex. Most ideas that are successful have the appearance of simplicity because they seem inevitable. In terms of ideas the artist is free even to surprise himself. This (surprising himself)is a thing that often occours with fractal artists:-)

Third,is the process of conception which the artist is concerned. Once given physical reality by the artist the work is open to the perception of all but doesn't really matter if the viewer understands the concepts of the artist. Once it is out of his hand the artist has no control over the way a viewer will perceive the work. Different people will understand the same thing in a different way. We could say that instead handycraft is the quality of the thinking the paramount for Conceptual Art works.

I would like to invite you to see a work I did on the concept of the First Sin. I mixed fractal with photo and graphic finishing on Photoshop. I did try to be not too intellectual :-)

4/17/2007 10:22 AM

Blogger Guido Cavalcante said...

If the link I gave is not moving into the image and if there is some interest on see it :-)

go here:

image galleries

guido cavalcante

look for the image "First Sin" on page "3"

4/17/2007 10:53 AM

Blogger Philip Northover said...

>> image "First Sin"

Religious/spiritual themes are natural for fractal art.

4/18/2007 9:48 AM


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