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PRINT February 2000

SUM AND THE PARTS: SOL LEWITT IN RETROSPECT

“SOL LEWITT: A RETROSPECTIVE,” THE FIRST FULL-SCALE U.S. SURVEY OF THE ARTIST’S WORK SINCE HIS 1978 MIDCAREER MILESTONE, GOES ON VIEW THIS MONTH AT THE SAN FRANCISCO MUSEUM OF MODERN ART. ANTICIPATING THE OPPORTUNITY TO VIEW THE LAST TWO DECADES OF LEWITT’S DIVERSE OUTPUT ALONGSIDE HIS EARLIER PRODUCTION, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR YVE-ALAIN BOIS ASKS HOW THE INCREASINGLY CONTRADICTORY SECOND ACT WILL SQUARE WITH THE FIRST.

IT’S BEEN A WHILE SINCE WE’VE BEEN ABLE TO SEE SOL LEWITT WHOLE. His last full retrospective in this country was in 1978, at the Museum of Modern Art. Sure, he’s been around: In my home area of Boston alone, we’ve had an excellent survey of his wall drawings from 1968 on (at the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover in 1993), and shortly afterward the touring retrospective of his drawings on paper, beginning with his 1958 student sketches after Piero della Francesca and Velázquez, made a stop at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. And in New York, just as one was beginning to wonder if LeWitt the sculptor had been completely superseded by LeWitt the wall draftsman, his stunning, monumental installation at the Ace Gallery in 1995 warned us that he still had a few tricks up his sleeve. Still, those shows are only slices of the pie—large chunks to be sure, but by definition they could not

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