On September 9, 1928, the American artist Sol LeWitt was born in Hartford. A long-time Chester resident, LeWitt, whose work includes drawings and sculptures, is identified with the late 20th century Minimalist and Conceptual art movements. In fact, Lewitt is often credited with coining the term “conceptual art” to describe his focus on the significance of the artist’s thought process.
Lewitt, who attended art classes at the Wadsworth Atheneum as a child, graduated from New Britain High School in 1945. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts at Syracuse University and serving in the US Army during the Korean War, he went on to pursue his art career in New York City. There, he found work as a graphic designer, including a stint in the offices of architect I.M. Pei. Lewitt began exhibiting his own work in 1963, often focusing on three-dimensional modular arrangements based on variations of spheres, squares, and other basic geometric shapes.
An innovator, Lewitt is probably best known for his wall drawings—a radical concept in the art world at the time as they were temporary, site-specific works meant to be painted over and destroyed. To emphasize that the idea, rather than its execution, represented the artist’s true creation, Lewitt often turned the implementation of the wall drawings over to assistants who followed his written instructions but had some freedom in their interpretation and execution. By the time of LeWitt’s death in 2007, he was internationally regarded for his visionary work. LeWitt’s wall drawings currently occupy prominent, permanent spaces in the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford and the New Britain Museum of American Art.