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Subject: Sol LeWitt Wall Drawing

Sol LeWitt Wall Drawing

From: Jonathan Kemp <stutterer<-a>
Date: Sunday, August 24, 2008
Berit Moller <beritmoller [at] gmail__com> writes

>Mark Clarke <mark [at] clericus__org> writes
>
>>Chantal Bernicky <bernickyc [at] carnegiemuseums__org> writes
>>
>>>A large Wall Drawing by Sol LeWitt was installed in 1986 and
>>>repainted in 2007 at the Carnegie Museum of Art. Serious cracks in
>>>the drywall substrate have developed with time and seem to have been
>>>made worse by the 2007 repainting. The paint, priming layers,
>>>drywall and joint compound are severely delaminating at the cracked
>>>areas and our attempts to control the situation have been
>>>unsuccessful so far.
>>...
>
>What is it that they want to preserve? The actual physical work of
>art, the physical work as documentation of the event (the assistants
>interpretation of the instructions by LeWitt) or the knowledge of
>it.
>
>Sol LeWitt's works of art, as you say, are based on statements and
>instructions and are executed by assistants. They form a certain
>expression that is due to the way they interpret the LeWitt
>statement. ...
>...
>The question now is an other matter: Why try to save something that
>is a copy of the original work?
>
>I think the original decision makers must go back to the drawing
>board and restart the discussion because the conservation problems
>described regarding the art work is now completely different since
>it is no longer the original work.

As you've outlined above, this is actually not the question as
LeWitt was interested in instruction sets viz. instructions to
others from which to make products--and so such works are
allographic rather than autographic [think of a musical score and
its rendition in different performances, rather than a singular
work]. Thus it seems to me to be in keeping with Le Witt's ideas to
restore the drawing and, by executing the usual procedures of
material analysis to determine with what to restore it with, the
idea of 'instruction set' is simply extended, with all decisions
added to the record (or 'specification sheet').

Jonathan Kemp
Senior Sculpture Conservator
Victoria and Albert Museum
South Kensington
London SW7 2RL
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Received on Sunday, 24 August, 2008

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