New York

Sol LeWitt

John Weber Gallery

Drawing as the result of conceptual premise, yielding results which transcend the structures upon which they are based, can be seen in the work of Dorothea Rockburne and Sol LeWitt. In Rockburne’s series, Drawing that Makes Itself, the information is contained within operations intrinsic to the activity of drawing, such as folds which create both line and edge.

The drawing of Sol LeWitt, one of the first to establish the systematic attitude as a structure for work, may be seen in relation to the wall drawings currently at the John Weber Gallery. The drawing in the larger room consists of all combinations of line in four directions. The result is simple and expansive—the difference in scale from the model to the actual wall presents a more dramatic shift than usually occurs in his work, because the web of lines in his more netlike wall drawings consists of increments not much larger than in the smaller works. While the model of the room and the drawn plan of the piece are visible in toto as a system of information, this logical coherence evaporates as the drawing is experienced around the walls of the room. The smaller room, which contains all combinations of arcs, straight lines, not-straight lines, and broken lines, is not at all simple in effect. It gives a feeling of motion and activity—exuberant although slightly confusing—but reminiscent of Matisse’s The Dance in its large generative rhythms, expanding beyond the confines of the space in which it is contained.

Several drawings in Ginsburg’s show are examples of the conceptual imagination in material form serving as the diagram of idea rather than the illustration of it. Perhaps the most notorious is Robert Rauschenberg’s erased de Kooning drawing of 1953. While there are still traces of de Kooning’s handwriting, the negative drawing—Rauschenberg’s erasure marks, which purportedly took two weeks to complete, and which can only be reconstructed in the mind—are as palpable as the original drawing. This play upon images is based on art’s “Labor Theory of Value,” which becomes a necessary aspect of the work. The use of value systems generally tacit or unquestioned can be seen in Carl Andre’s pieces Drawing for the Distribution of the Rewards of Art along the Lines of Quality and Proscriptive Drawing. The first includes 50¢ lottery tickets with the names of the artists in the show and the show’s organizer. The second consists of postcards addressed to these artists with the exhortation: “For each civilian killed in Vietnam by us bombing after 12/15/72 prick a name drawn from a list including the President, the Vice-President, the Supreme Court, Congress and the Cabinet.” If, in purely physical works, intentions are what are not used up in the execution, Andre’s pieces contain solely unused intentions for exploitation of the government by the recipients of the cards. A couple of Robert Morris’ drawings also involve systems—cognitive and physiological processes—generally irrelevant or subsumed within the work of art. Self-Portrait, 1963, is a map of his brain waves, while Memory Drawing, 1963, involves a statement about theories of memory repeated five times, differing only in his ability to reiterate the information.

––Lizzie Borden