The LeWitt-Berlage Stairwell

By: Louk Vreeswijk

May 08 2016

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Category: Europe, Netherlands

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With the renovation of the Gemeentemuseum in 1998 the drawing of LeWitt that had been on the walls of the stairwell since 1983 had disappeared.

LeWitt must have designed hundreds of wall drawings during his lifetime. I only know a few, but drawing # 373 on the stairwell in the Gemeentemuseum was considered an outstanding example since it fitted the character of the building by architect Berlage so well. Stairwell and wall drawing had merged into one exceptional work of art.

It seems that initially there was no plan to repaint the drawing on the white walls of the stairwell after the renovation, but the public outcry over the disappearance was such that the wall drawing was re-executed in 2000. Each visit to the museum confirms the justness of this decision.

In the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam one can admire another drawing by LeWitt, especially designed for the gallery wall on which it is executed.

Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing #1084 (detail), acrylic on wall, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, 2003

Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing #1084 (detail), acrylic on wall, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, 2003

A note on the wall says: “(…..) LeWitt was not concerned with the expressive capacities of the materials, nor the skills of the artist. His work centers entirely on the concept behind the work. Each wall painting he conceives is in the form of a fixed set of instructions to be carried out step by step. Following this approach, a work can be recreated at different locations, at different times, by different people. Wall Drawing # 1084 was (…..) executed by LeWitt’s Dutch assistants.”

We may appreciate it as a beautiful, impressive wall painting, but it will never get the standing of his drawing # 373 on the Berlage stairwell in The Hague.

Photo of the week: Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing # 373 (detail), Lines in Four Directions, 2000 (first execution in the museum 1983), pencil, ink and paint on one of the four stairwells of the Gemeentemuseum The Hague, Netherlands 2015

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