Exhibition : 21 October – 19 December 2009

Sol LeWitt's Sentences on Conceptual Art: Manuscript and Draft Materials 1968–69

OCA launched its autumn/winter 2009 semesterplan with the presentation of Sol LeWitt's 'Sentences on Conceptual Art: Manuscript and Draft Materials 1968–69', and the lecture 'Fragment and Project: From Schlegel's Athenaeum Fragments to LeWitt's Sentences on Conceptual Art' by Peter Osborne. The lecture linked the ideas put forth by the early German Romantics in the 18th century, principally within the Athenaeum Fragments, with the aesthetic concerns of artists within the Conceptual movements of the 1960s. Osborne approached how the many ideas central to the understanding of contemporary art – genre, fragment, project, concepts of the new and of concepts of art and art criticism themselves – derive from early German Romanticism. In doing so, Osborne pointed out how the significance of these connections has been obscured, in large part, by continuing pre-occupations with notions of 'medium' and 'aesthetic,' and by the literary origins of the ideas themselves. The lecture further delved into how Conceptual art in the 1960s broke with these conventions, laying the foundation for the radical openness of contemporary art. This lecture further revisited Friedrich Schlegel's Athenaeum Fragments, one of the defining documents of German Romanticism, as the basis for a new interpretation of Sol LeWitt's Sentences on Conceptual Art, focusing in particular on the art-status of criticism and its philosophical function of 'completing' works of art.

The Project

In tandem with Peter Osborne's lecture, OCA presented the original manuscripts of Sol LeWitt's Sentences on Conceptual Art, as part of the larger semesterplan programme 'Columns, Grottos, Niches: The Grammar of Forms – On Art Criticism, Writing, Publishing and Distribution.' In January 1969 LeWitt's Sentences were first published in the magazine 0-9 (New York, NY) edited by Vito Acconci and Bernadette Mayer, and later the same year in Art-Language (UK) as a declaration of independence of 'art as idea'. These rarely exhibited handwritten notes illustrate the evolution of LeWitt's thought with respect to his proposal and are made available to the public courtesy of the Collection Daled, Beglium.

About the Athenaeum Fragments

The Athenaeum Fragments are a series of 451 sentences, aphorisms, and short paragraphs written by Friedrich Schlegel with contributions from Schlegel's brother August Wilhelm, Novalis and Friedrich Schleiermacher, published in several issues of the journal Athenaeum from 1798 to 1800, which the two brothers edited. The Fragments are statements – sometimes playful, sometimes serious and cryptic – on a wide variety of issues, from poetry and philosophy to politics. Together, they simultaneously theorise and put into practice a series of notions – such as irony and criticism – that have come to shape the way we understand literature and art today.

About Sol LeWitt

Sol LeWitt (9 September 1928 – 8 April 2007) is considered one of the most important artists to have emerged from the Minimal and Conceptual art movements. Since 1960, LeWitt has worked in a variety of media including sculpture, drawing (both on paper and walls), prints, and photography. He helped establish Conceptual Art and Minimalism of the post war era, creating drawings and structures (a term that the artist preferred to sculpture) by reducing art to the most basic shapes and colors. LeWitt has been included in numerous museum exhibitions, including the Tate Gallery, London; Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; MASS MoCA, Massachusetts; Museum of Modern Art, New York, and UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.

About the Grammar of Forms

'Columns, Grottos, Niches: The Grammar of Forms – On Art Criticism, Writing, Publishing and Distribution' was a series public events, workshops and presentations that took place from autumn 2009 to spring 2010 at OCA's premises at Nedre gate 7, with the aim to look at language, writing, criticism and publishing in relation to contemporary art, exploring its diverse modes of operation and possibilities within historical and contemporary practices. In these public events, writers, artists, critics, publishers and theorists investigated different experiences of and approaches to writing and language, specifically in relation to art.