Just following instructions


Sol LeWitt wall drawing being made at Dia Beacon

Sol LeWitt wall drawing being made at Dia Beacon

Drawing on a big scale – and some of Sol LeWitt’s larger wall drawings are on a very big scale, more installation than drawing really – can be quite an undertaking. Even if LeWitt had made most of his work himself he could have been forgiven for bringing in a team of assistants to help out. Given his strategy of generating instructions for others to follow though the process of drawing is, by definition, the domain of hired hands.

Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing #273, 1975

Wall Drawing #273, 1975, installed at Dia Beacon in 2007

The instructions vary in their precision – deliberately, one assumes – leaving space for the work to be unique in each location that it’s made. I like the randomness of this. Though the instructions are clear in a sense they are not so precise as to result in an exactly replicable outcome. The act of drawing must be a curious one in this respect. Those who spend days – or maybe longer – making a drawing know that they have followed the a set of instructions that others have followed before (and that others will follow in the future) but in doing so they have produced a unique work, never to be exactly replicated.

Proposal for Wall Drawing, Information Show

Proposal for Wall Drawing, Information Show (MoMA, 1970)

Here, setting up a problem for any possible remaking of the work years later, the instructions specify not just the way the draftsmen are to make the marks but also the rate of pay they are to receive. At $4 an hour for four 4, hour days, this is hardly lucrative work; though of course as a rate of pay it would have felt rather more generous in 1970.

3 thoughts on “Just following instructions

  1. Pingback: Read the Instructions | Mark Robert Barry

  2. Pingback: Please Read the Instructions | Mark Robert Barry

  3. Pingback: Please, Follow Instructions | Mark Robert Barry

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