30 Oct - 31 Mar

Jewish Museum shows Sol LeWitt’s work


Attention to the Dutch connection and Jewish background of this founder of conceptual art and minimalism

The Jewish Museum will host the Sol LeWitt exhibition from October 30, 2023 to March 31, 2024. This American Jewish artist (1928 – 2007) is considered one of the founders of conceptual art. It was not without reason that he ended up in the Netherlands in the 1960s, when Amsterdam developed into an international center for conceptual art.

The exhibition focuses on LeWitt’s ties with the Netherlands and his Jewish background. On display are four wall drawings, together with works on paper, structures (spatial objects) and archive material from Dutch museum and private collections. It is one of the largest exhibitions to date for the Jewish Museum.

Career in the Netherlands
LeWitt’s bond with the Netherlands is highlighted. Dutch museums, galleries, collectors and artists played an important role in the development of his career from the start. Many of LeWitt’s friends are well-known names from the Dutch art scene in the 1970s, such as conceptual artist Jan Dibbets, curator Enno Develing and designer Martin Visser. His work can also be seen in public spaces at various locations in the Netherlands.

Jewish background
The exhibition also focuses on LeWitt’s Jewish background. As the son of Jewish immigrants from Russia, he led a secular life. At the same time, he identified with his Jewish heritage. His wife Carol describes LeWitt as “a very professing non-believer” who joined a Jewish congregation in the 1980s and was friends with the rabbi. LeWitt completed one public building in his life; the synagogue in Chester, Connecticut. His relationship with his Jewish origins and his interest in architecture come together in this building.

Recipes for meter-high wall drawings
In 1967, LeWitt wrote his essay Paragraphs on Conceptual Art in which he argues that the idea for a work of art is as important as the work itself. He thus invented the term ‘Conceptual Art’. Based on this principle, he designed wall drawings for which he wrote out the instructions, like a recipe, which he had others execute. These wall drawings are still made worldwide under the supervision of a small number of professional experts. With the help of assistants, they carry out LeWitt’s work under strict conditions. Each wall drawing is unique and in principle temporary. Also in the Jewish Museum, four wall drawings were executed by students from the Utrecht University of the Arts under the supervision of two experts. The exhibition is accompanied by an activities program with guided tours, film screenings and more.

Sol LeWitt, until March 31 2024, Jewish Museum, Nieuwe Amstelstraat 1