Sol LeWitt

Sol LeWitt's Words of Wisdom:

Just DO

“Learn to say ‘Fuck You’ to the world once in a while.”

—Sol LeWitt

Sol LeWitt, a pioneer of the Minimalist and Conceptual movements, advised his friend and fellow artist, Eva Hesse, to just DO to get over her uncertainty about her path. In a now famous letter, he told her to stop “thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder, wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping (...)”, and reminded her that her sole responsibility was to her work and not for how it might be received.

“And don't think that your work has to conform to any preconceived form, idea or flavor. It can be anything you want it to be.”

LeWitt admits that he often has the same doubts and apprehensions about his own work, hating what he has done and trying to do something better and different. He acknowledges that though it is a painful process, it might also be a necessary element for Hesse as it is for him.

“I have an "Agonizing Reappraisal" of my work and change everything as much as possible (...). It would be better if you had the confidence just to do the stuff and not even think about it.”

Here is some of his advice to Hesse that stood out to us:

Be willing to be uncool, stupid, dumb and empty
Instead of trying to put out the perfect work of art or the coolest, LeWitt's advice to Hesse was to just do something that tickled her fancy, that made her chuckle, that put out her fears and anxieties.

Do some BAD work...on purpose
He told Hesse to do the worst thing she could possibly imagine and face the worst that can happen. Purposefully enacting the worst would release her reticence and ease up her creative block.

"Quit fondling your ego"
LeWitt emphasized the importance of Hesse emptying her mind right before she worked and as she worked. Her concentration should be fully on her work.

Surround yourself with people who know and support you
Hesse was far harder on herself than anyone else, so LeWitt told her "Well, you know I admire your work greatly and can't understand why you are so bothered by it."

“Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder, wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping, confusing, itching, scratching, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling, humbling, stumbling, numbling, rambling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling, scrambling, hitching, hatching, bitching, moaning, groaning, honing, boning, horse-shitting, hair-splitting, nit-picking, piss-trickling, nose sticking, ass-gouging, eyeball-poking, finger-pointing, alleyway-sneaking, long waiting, small stepping, evil-eyeing, back-scratching, searching, perching, besmirching, grinding, grinding, grinding away at yourself.”

—Sol LeWitt


These words of wisdom were curated by architect and founder Cece, written by studio manager and teacher Aline Djerrahian, and edited by artist in residence Nadège Roscoe-Rumjahn. We were excited to deepen our knowledge of the artists by watching interviews, reading articles, pulling forgotten books from our shelves and visiting interesting websites. If you'd like to learn more, please get in touch.

Clockwise from top left:
1. Sol LeWitt in his studio, late 1960s Courtesy Estate of Sol LeWitt.
2. Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing #260, San Francisco Museum of Art 1975. © Estate of Sol LeWitt/Artists Rights Society (ARS). Photo: Rudy Bender. Courtesy San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
3. Sol LeWitt; Four Part Combinations of Six Geometric Figures in Four Colors, edition of 40. 1980. Printed on handmade Japanese Echizen-Kizuki-Husho paper. Courtesy of Jonathan A. Hill Bookseller.
4. Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing #393, 1983, Red, yellow, blue, black crayon, black pencil grid, white wall, dimensions variable. Drawn at Paula Cooper Gallery by Sachiko Cho, Brianne Caitlin Doak, Lacey Fekishazy, Clinton King, Hidemi Nomura. All images © Estate of Sol LeWitt / ARS, New York. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York.
5. Sol LeWitt – Incomplete Open Cube No. 5-6, 1974, paint on aluminium, (42.5 x 42.5 x 42.5 in). Lisson Gallery.
6-10. Letter from Sol LeWitt to Eva Hesse, 1965. The Letters of Note book, courtesy of the LeWitt Estate / Artists Rights Society.

Fast Facts

Name: Solomon LeWitt
Occupation: Conceptual and Minimal Artist
Known For: Wall drawings that exist as a set of instructions, reproducible by anyone.
Born: September 9, 1928 in Hartford, USA.
Died: April 8, 2008 in New York City, USA.
Education: Syracuse University and School of Visual Arts
Philosophy: "An architect doesn't go off with a shovel and dig his foundation and lay every brick. He's still an artist." The idea itself,the conception of a work is a work of art, even if it's produced by others and perhaps not even made at all.
Quirk: Gathered nearly 9,000 works of art from approximately 750 artists.
Watch the full reading of the letter by Benedict Cumberbatch here.


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