Education

3D Grid Self-Portraits

inspired by the Multiples of Sol LeWitt

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Architecture class
The High School of Art & Design, 
New York
Juniors PD3 and PD4
 

The Marian Goodman Gallery is pleased to have worked in collaboration with The High School of Art & Design’s Architecture teacher Helen Vachicouras and two of her Junior level classes around the exhibition “Multiples, Inc.: 1965-1992” which took place at MGG NY in January-February 2021.

Multiples, Inc. is the art publishing company founded by Marian Goodman and a few partners in 1965. The exhibition comprised of over 150 editions by over 70 artists including Sol LeWitt, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, and Andy Warhol. The broad variety of media used by the artists range from prints to unique objects, works on Plexiglas, portfolios, artist’s books, jewelry, furniture pieces, ephemera, stage props, photographs, and soft sculptural works. During the 60s and 70s, artists often experimented with new techniques and materials, and the lower price point of their editioned works allowed for them to be available to a wider audience. 

The students were introduced to the serial work of Sol LeWitt, and focused in on “Autobiography”, the artist book published by Multiples, Inc. in 1980. In this seminal work, Sol LeWitt documents his daily surroundings by photographing every object of his Hester Street studio, ranging from books, to cooking pans, to doorknobs, and cutlery. The artist organized these objects by similarity into a grid of 9 images per page, further cancelling the hierarchy between them. LeWitt's thorough cataloging of the mundane objects around him created a self-portrait of the artist without using any images of his body or facial features. Students were asked to look around their own space and think about ways in which their environment and the objects they are surrounded by evoke their sense of self. This lesson was particularly resonant since at the time the students were strictly learning remotely from home due to the pandemic. 

Sol LeWitt, born in the US in 1928, is often considered the father of conceptual and minimal art. LeWitt developed his first Wall Drawing in 1968 and completed more than 1200 by the time he died in 2007. While LeWitt is best known for the Wall Drawings, his practice also included an enormously influential body of work in sculpture, drawings, prints, photography and books.

Perhaps Sol LeWitt’s greatest achievement was to liberate the work of art from the hand of the artist. Believing the idea itself mattered most, he developed a personal grammar of line, color and form that he could use to transcribe his ideas into instructions to be carried out by others, who would execute his works all over the world.

"Sol LeWitt's works often consist of rhythmic repetitions and geometries, similarly, I was inspired by his use of hierarchical organization in his sculptural pieces."

 Xiang Lin, PD3

After studying the six ordering principles of Architecture (axis, symmetry, hierarchy, datum, rhythm/repetition, and transformation), the students, inspired by the work of Sol LeWitt each created an abstract three-dimensional self-portrait following one or more of the ordering principles.

1) Axis

2) Symmetry

3) Hierarchy

4) Datum 

5) Rhythm

6) Transformation

"I took inspiration from Sol Lewitt’s well-tempered grid idea and applied it to my project. These nine [important] things [in my life] are each represented by a tower, they are music, games, art, nature, New York, food, sports, education, and family. I wanted to use really simple things so that others who see this could also relate to me." 

—Victoria Chong, PD4

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"3D Grid Abstract Self-Portraits" by Architecture Students at Art and Design School, PD3

"Working with a grid gave me some sense of direction yet it still left me with a lot of room for abstract and free thought."  

Fernanda Kligerman, PD4

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"3D Grid Abstract Self-Portraits" by Architecture Students at Art and Design School, PD4

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