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Wall Drawing 853

  • Sol LeWitt

  • Sol LeWitt

A wall bordered and divided vertically into two parts by a flat black band. Left part: a square is divided vertically by a curvy line. Left: glossy red; right: glossy green; Right part: a square is divided horizontally by a curvy line. Top: glossy blue; bottom: glossy orange.

June 1998

Acrylic paint

Courtesy of the Estate of Sol LeWitt

First Installation
Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea Palazzo Forti, Verona

First Drawn By
Cristina Caterinangeli, Anthony Sansotta

MASS MoCA Building 7
Third Floor

Wall Drawing 853, one of Sol LeWitt’’s early painted wall drawings, explores combinations of complementary colors, or colors that are opposites on the color wheel, such as red and green. At MASS MoCA Wall Drawing 853, which features blue and orange alongside red and green, is displayed on the same wall as Wall Drawing 852, which is composed of yellow and purple. The two wall drawings were originally displayed on two separate walls in an exhibit at Galleria d’’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea Palazzo Forti, Verona.

In siting both wall drawings on the same wall, LeWitt creates a finite series of complementary primary and secondary colors; all three complementary pairings are shown. In addition, a different type of curvy line divides each of the three squares: the red and green square is divided by a vertical curvy line, the blue and orange square is divided by a horizontal curvy line, and the yellow and purple square is divided by a diagonal curvy line. LeWitt’’s use of a finite series dates back to his early pencil wall drawings, which were based on combinations of the four basic types of lines (vertical, horizontal, diagonal left, and diagonal right.)

The glossy varnish can be problematic in that it does not stick easily to the wall. To apply the varnish the draftsmen must work very carefully in teams. The first team of three paints the varnish onto the wall. A second team of three paints horizontal strokes through the varnish using brushes constructed specifically for this purpose. They must hold the brushes lightly to minimize the appearance of brushstrokes. The specialized brush is composed of polyester bristles which are about the thickness of babies’’ hair. The material and size of the bristles help adhere the varnish to the wall.