To the new Pompidou Centre in Metz, to see the amazing wall drawings of Sol Lewitt. I am sorry, but for as much as the MUDAM struture is a success, the Metz Pompidou is an ill-designed missed opportunity. Little thought has been given to visitor flows or their animal needs (just one toilet per floor, a tiny bar and restaurant apparently tacked on as an afterthought, a tiny and disappointing museum shop, and gale-force draughts at the entrances to the exhibition spaces) and whilst some of the exhibition spaces and views are good and the wooden roof structure creates some interesting perspectives, there is an overall impression of jumble and afterthoughts. It’s a shame and a missed opportunity because the architects didn’t have to think about their surroundings and truly had carte blanche. Perhaps that was the problem. The Sol Lewitt exhibition more than makes up for the disappointment. Eighty drafters, including trained professionals from Lewitt’s studio as well as young artists from the Lorraine region spent two months drawing thirty-three of these extraordinary creations on especially prepared walls. If you don’t know about Sol Lewitt, please read on below. This exhibition is probably a unique chance to see so many of his black-and-white drawings and is well worth the trek. If you go, don’t miss the film at the end. Fascinating!
This is how Lewitt himself described his work, it is taken from a 1971 article ‘Doing wall drawings’, published in Art Now, Vol. 3, N° 2, New York, June 1971.
‘The artist conceives and plans the wall drawing. It is realized by draftsmen (the artist can act as his own draftsman). The plan (written, spoken or a drawing) is interpreted by the draftsman. There are decisions which the draftsman makes, within the plan, as part of the plan. Each individual being unique, given the same instructions would carry them out differently. He would understand them differently. The artist must allow various interpretations of his plan. The draftsman perceives the artist’s plan, then reorders it to his own experience and understanding. The draftsman’s contributions are unforeseen by the artist, even if he, the artist, is the draftsman. Even if the same draftsman followed the same plan twice, there would be two different works of art. No one can do the same thing twice. The artist and the draftsman become collaborators in making the art. Each person draws a line differently and each person understands words differently. Neither lines nor words are ideas, they are the means by which ideas are conveyed. The wall drawing is the artist’s art, as long as the plan is not violated. If it is, then the draftsman becomes the artist and the drawing would be his work of art. But art that is a parody of the original concept. The draftsman may make errors in following the plan without compromising the plan. All wall drawings contain errors, they are part of the work. The plan exists as an idea but needs to be put into optimum form. Ideas of wall drawings alone are contradictions of the idea of wall drawings. The explicit plan should accompany the finished wall drawing. They are of equal importance.’