Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Just the fax

Who'd have ever thought you could sit down to watch a 72-minute documentary at the Film Festival on the artist Sol LeWitt without him making a single personal appearance. LeWitt was not interested in talking about his work publicly or attending his own openings. “I don’t even want my picture to be used because it has nothing to do with my art” was the LeWitt line. Back in the sixties and seventies this was an accepted position for an artist to take and because he was a terrific artist everyone played ball. In NZ this was also the approach taken by Ralph Hotere and more recently and more controversially by et al. But in 2005 et al's resistance to talking the talk led Creative New Zealand to insert a you-will-talk-to-the-media clause into the Venice Biennale artist contract.

The LeWitt film demonstrated that for all his taciturn approach in public, he was an exceptionally generous man. One of his assistants John Hogan said, “if you had a fax machine and a wall you could have a work by Sol LeWitt”. As we’ve posted before, Sue Crockford had a fax machine and a wall and she also had a Sol LeWitt exhibition. LeWitt showed his famed generosity and sent all the assistants who installed the work a small drawing for their trouble. Remarkably, given the ease with which LeWitt's wall works could be presented internationally and its impact, no NZ public art museum ever took advantage of the Sol LeWitt’s fax and install process. As a footnote, one of Lewitt’s more sculptural works Pyramid is part of the Gibbs collection and is installed on The Farm

Image: Assistants installing a Sol LeWitt work in the eponymous film