Critics’ Picks

Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing #1104: All combinations of lines in four directions. Lines do not have to be drawn straight (with a ruler), 2003, black marker on mirror, dimensions variable.

Milan

Sol LeWitt

Fondazione Carriero
Via Cino del Duca, 4
November 17 - June 23

This exhibition is a gymnasium for the mind. Titled “Between the Lines,” the show occupies every space across the venue’s two buildings, to provide an intense and, at times, brilliantly jarred portrait of Sol LeWitt. Considered one of the founders of Conceptualism, the artist was one of the first to theorize that the work is the idea, while its realization is secondary, inasmuch as it is already contained in the idea itself, thus sanctioning the primacy of idea over execution. His work is also great fun. The two- and three-dimensional forms here often feel impossible, and, while maintaining their spatial autonomy, interact with or modify the external environment. Above all, they invite observers to follow noncanonical and almost daredevilish visual paths through fifteenth- and seventeenth-century interiors that are much different from the white cubes in which we might expect to see LeWitt’s work displayed. Visitors move from large Gothic rooms to very small ones, from the embellished to the rigorous, and LeWitt’s works, reinterpreted here by curators Francesco Stocchi and Rem Koolhaas, end up in unexpected arrangements. LeWitt’s career is retraced along a trail made up of seven wall drawings, fifteen sculptures, and a book of photographs titled Autobiography, 1980, its pages wallpapering an entire room. The most spectacular use of space can be seen in the Rococo room on the last final, uppermost floor, where mirrors ruled in black, chevron-like patterns reflect viewers’ own autobiographies (Wall Drawing #1104: All combinations of lines in four directions. Lines do not have to be drawn straight [with a ruler], 2003). The structures installed in the small, more intimate spaces demand concentration without the promise of revelation. They capture what I love most about contemporary art: its insistence that you follow routes that, while sometimes impassable, offer great satisfaction once the end is reached.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.