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Sol LeWitt was born in Hartford, Connecticut, on September 9, 1928. He completed a BFA at Syracuse University in 1949 and then served in the U.S. Army in Korea and Japan during the Korean War. In 1953 LeWitt moved to New York, where he took classes at the Cartoonists and Illustrators School. He worked in the office of architect I. M. Pei, and during the first half of the 1960s he supported himself by working as a night receptionist at the Museum of Modern Art, where he met future critic Lucy Lippard and fellow artists Dan Flavin, Robert Mangold, and Robert Ryman. In the early 1960s LeWitt made paintings and reliefs before concentrating on three-dimensional works based on the cube in the mid-1960s. For these, he used precise, measured formats such as grids and modules, and systematically developed variations. His methods were mathematically based, defined by language, or created through random processes. He took up similar approaches in works on paper.
Inspired by Eadweard Muybridge’s sequential photographs of animals and people in motion, he incorporated seriality in his work to imply the passage of time or narrative. The artist’s first solo show took place in 1965 at the John Daniels Gallery in New York. In the second half of the 1960s LeWitt’s art was shown in group exhibitions of what would soon be known as Minimalism. LeWitt is also regarded as a founder of Conceptual art. He began making wall drawings in 1968. In sculpture, LeWitt mapped out all possible permutations of a cube with one or more sides missing in Variations of Incomplete Open Cubes (1974).
From 1966 on, LeWitt’s interest in seriality led to his production of several artist’s books. In 1980 LeWitt left New York for a quieter life in Spoleto, Italy. In the mid-1980s he began composing some of his sculptures from stacked cinder blocks, still generating variations within self-imposed restrictions. LeWitt’s wall drawings of the 1980s incorporated geometric forms and stars, as well as solid areas of ink-washed color. His wall drawing for the 1988 Venice Biennale engulfed the pavilion’s interior. In 1996 he introduced acrylics into his wall paintings. Comprehensive traveling retrospectives of LeWitt’s work have been organized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1978) and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2000). He returned to the United States in the late 1980s, and died on April 8, 2007, in New York.