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Sol LeWitt (1928-2007)

Open Geometric Structure 3

Sol LeWitt (1928-2007)
Open Geometric Structure 3
signed 's. lewitt' (on the underside)
painted wood
38 5/8 x 38 5/8 x 172 3/8in. (98 x 98 x 438cm.)
Executed in 1990
Lisson Gallery, London.
Sol LeWitt: Structures, exh. cat., Oxford, Museum of Modern Art, 1993 (illustrated).
London, Lisson Gallery, New Structures, January-February 1991.
Chagny, Galerie Pietro Sparta, Sol LeWitt: Structures, June-October 1995.
Verona, Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea Palazzo Forti, Sol LeWitt, July-September 1998.
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Lot Essay

Sol LeWitt's Open Geometric Structure 3 presents the viewer with a simple geometric progression, perfectly demonstrating the elegant rigour that underpins the greatest of his Minimalist works. One of the foremost of the pioneers of Minimalism and indeed of Conceptual Art, having first developed his 'aesthetic' in the early 1960s, LeWitt began to base his work either on mathematics and logic, or on hazard, allowing these factors to provide and suggest the ultimate form of the artwork; in this case, this structure is the result of a simple algebraic growth. For LeWitt, the grid became the basis for his exploration of self-propelling, self-perpetuating, self-forming systems that allowed him merely to sow the seed that would result in a finished work whose appearance in reality often had the ability surprise the viewer, and even the artist, having had its inception in such a deceptively simple notion. In Open Geometric Structure 3, that grid has burst into three dimensions in this grid-like succession of cubes, perhaps indicating the continued influence of I.M. Pei, the celebrated architect for whom LeWitt worked as a graphic designer. From the moment that he began to explore his idiosyncratic aesthetic in his prints, paintings, wall drawings and sculptures, LeWitt's oeuvre could be seen to have an over-arcing consistency, meaning that Open Geometric Structure 3 stands both as an autonomous, self-created object and as a facet of a continuing artwork that had its beginnings in his works of the early 1960s.

Open Geometric Structure 3 comprises a group of units, cubes made from outlines of white-painted wood. At one end of Open Geometric Structure 3 is a column, eight units tall but only one wide in each horizontal direction; the work then proceeds by a number of steps whereby as it becomes one unit shorter, it becomes a unit wider in each horizontal direction. Thus, from above, it would appear to show a progression of squares, yet from the side it shows what resembles rather a set of stairs, which themselves are becoming wider and less steep. LeWitt has used a strict internal discipline to create something that is at essentially irrefutable, that is exactly what it is and for a simple reason, that has, from the initial spark of a concept of its mathematical progression, essentially conjured itself into existence. It is this self-sufficiency, heightened by the lack of reference to the outside world, that has resulted in the creation of Open Geometric Structure 3, and indeed in its authoritative, stand-alone sense of Minimalist objecthood.

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