Lot 103
  • 103

Sol LeWitt

80,000 - 120,000 GBP
182,500 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Sol Lewitt
  • Incomplete Open Cube
    Five Part Variation No.5 (5-5)
  • baked enamel on aluminium


Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris
Acquired directly from the above by the late owner


New York, The John Weber Gallery, Sol LeWitt: Incomplete Open Cubes, 1974, n.p., illustrated twice with schematic drawing


Exhibition Catalogue, San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art; New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Sol LeWitt: A Retrospective, 2000-01, p. 149, illustration of the schematic drawing

Catalogue Note

For Sol LeWitt, cubes were ‘relatively uninteresting . . . and lacked the expressive force of more interesting forms and shapes’, and with their geometric regularity, this made them perfect primary modules for his art. Peeling back the skin of the closed cubes that he had previously designed, LeWitt revealed the essential geometric structure (Sol LeWitt, "Homage to the Square," Art in America, July/August 1967, p. 54). In order to complete his work on this theme, Variations of Incomplete Open Cubes, LeWitt employed the expertise of Dr. Erna Herrey, a mathematician and physicist, to find and test every single possible variant. This resulted in 122 unique variations. The idea at work here is that if the viewer can understand the complete structure of a cube, then he or she may mentally reconstruct the cube. This moves the structure away from its designer, and allows the viewer to participate in the work, completing its structure conceptually.

Many conceptualist artists claim that the concept, or the idea, of the work of art is more important that the work itself, and it cannot be denied that this took primacy for LeWitt. In this concern and preoccupation with the mental qualities that make up the foundations of artistic production and reception, LeWitt could be said to follow on from the similar fifteenth century concerns with perspective of Paolo Ucello, or the later scientific considerations of Georges Seurat. Whilst LeWitt’s pieces are without doubt fixed to the cerebral, analytical and geometric systems, these should not and do not obscure the visual impact of the works which cannot be reduced to words or simply an idea. The immediate experience is visual and LeWitt’s works are remarkable in their lucidity and purity, together with their intellectual grounding. Even though he stressed ‘the idea becomes a machine that makes the art’, he also allowed the viewer their own visual experience, saying ‘it doesn’t really matter if the viewer understands the work. Once it is out of his hand the artist has no control over how the viewer will view the work. Different people will understand the same thing in a different way,’ (Sol LeWitt, 'Paragraphs on Conceptual Art', 5:10, Summer 1967, pp. 79–84). In their monochromatic and structural clarity, these three pieces by Sol LeWitt in the Casagrande collection prompt intellectual consideration and visceral awe when placed in front of the viewer.