Sol LeWitt—Extraordinary traveller in Spoleto
“As the first painting was. The first painting was a single line, which surrounded the shadow of man cast by the sun upon the walls”: poetic definition taken from the Trattato della pittura by Leonardo da Vinci. Reading through it, many years ago now, I immediately thought of Sol LeWitt rather than Giotto. Of his first lines, black pencil on a wall.
Wall Drawing #136, black pencil lines on wall, made in 1972 at Chiostro di San Nicolò, after the one in Torre Bonomo, is the first public work by Sol Lewitt in Spoleto.
A very long wall with a small arched door in the center, received infinite curved, straight, not-straight, dashed lines, intersected by asymmetric arches originating from a corner, in a vast square lattice. I hadn’t yet understood Sol’s conceptual lesson, I naively associated it with a sort of Renaissance sinopia. Unfortunately, Wall Drawing #136 was later erased, then drawn again for Incontri 1980 – Interventi di artisti contemporanei a Spoleto and finally erased again a few years later, without any reason.
Only Muro, designed and made in 1980, still stands, a lonesome witness, visible from the Viale Matteotti Promenade, slightly removed from [Buckminister] Fuller’s geodesic dome on the lawn above the subterranean parking structure by architect Macchia along the Spoletosfera. There it converses with Sol LeWitt’s white house, sitting on the opposite side, in the foreground of the panoramic view of Monteluco mountain. A square, built in limestone and mortar, maybe in homage to the millenarian history of the city of Spoleto; I like to think that Sol dedicated it to rural civilization, to the simplicity of life in the fields and in the woods.
And again, new polychrome geometries, overlays and modular variations. Structures, shapes, and white pyramids, getting larger and more complex, the outcome of careful design, distinctive thought and work of the entire conceptual poetics of Sol: the idea as work of art, the primacy of idea over handcraft. This concept, perhaps, allows us to agree that the idea, as a design of the mind, can’t be reduced to a fetish as it usually happens with handcrafts, and thus can be defined as “pure art.”
Franco Troiani - Spoleto August 14, 2018
(freely excerpted from the book/catalogue “SOL LEWITT Extraordinary traveller”, edited by Franco Troiani/MAD Umbria Museum—Campello sul Clitunno, Perugia, 2013).