Sol LeWitt is one of the key artists of the 1960's. He is regarded as a founder of both Minimal and Conceptual art. His work bridges Minimal and Conceptual art, movements that abandoned the emphasis on psychological content and gestural form typifying Abstract Expressionism in the 1950's.
Born in 1928 in Hartford, Connecticut, LeWitt moved to New York in 1953, just as Abstract Expressionism was beginning to gain public recognition and was dominating contemporary art. For LeWitt and his colleagues, Abstract Expressionism had become, by the early 1960's, an entrenched style that offered few new creative possibilities for young artists.
In contrast to the psychologically loaded brushwork of Abstraction Expressionism, LeWitt began to create works that utilized simple and impersonal forms, exploring repetition and variations of a basic form or line as a way to achieve works of a complex and satisfying nature. Perhaps most importantly, he evolved a working method for creating artworks based on simple directions, works that could be executed by others rather than the artist himself.
LeWitt has never forsaken the fundamental approach that he developed in the 1960's, emphasizing ideas over psychological expression and letting other people bring these ideas into physical and visual form. Over the years, however, his work has grown more complex in its effect and more complicated in its execution. The work from the 1960's is the most austere and straightforward, while work from the 1970's inventively compounds the ideas and forms of the prior decade. The early 1980's saw a marked shift involving sensual color and surfaces, myriad geometric shapes and their permutations, and a more explicitly expressive overall character.