Sol LeWitt For Adolescents

Silhouette of cubes

Circle with Towers


Sol LeWitt

American, 1928–2007

Subject: Conceptual Art

Activity: Create and execute a conceptual work of art with a partner

Materials: Paper, pencil, and other art-making materials

Vocabulary: Conceptual art, minimalism, geometric


Sol LeWitt (1928–2007) is recognized as one of the founders of conceptual art and minimalism. He valued the creation of a concept or idea for a work of art over its execution. In 1967 LeWitt famously said, “The idea becomes the machine that makes the art.” He often compared himself to classical music composers who draft their work for others to perform. Likewise, LeWitt’s artwork continues to be created by teams of people who follow his written instructions.

LeWitt is most well known for his wall drawings and sculptures (known as “structures”). Simple geometric forms like the cube appeared in both his two-dimensional and three-dimensional works. Similar to the way in which composers use musical notes to express their ideas, LeWitt used basic visual forms as building blocks for creating a system of instructions for others to use in creating his works.

Wall Drawing #520 took a team of six people twenty days to execute. LeWitt believed that it was important to recognize each artist who participates in the creation of his works, and their names are included with each piece.


Must an artist use his or her own hands to create a work of art?

Which is more important: the object or the idea? Why?

How is Sol LeWitt similar to and different than an architect?


Picture a simple image in your mind. It might contain color, basic shapes, and lines. Using writing materials, create a list of instructions that your partner can use to create the image. Write simple directions, such as “4 intersecting lines.” Trade with your partner and use each other’s instructions to create your partner’s image. How similar is the image your partner drew to the image you had in mind?


Conceptual art —Art in which the idea or concept for a work is more important than its execution.

Minimalism —An art movement that began in the 1960s. Minimalist artists create works that have no subject, but instead focus on the materials used. These artworks usually depict simplified, geometric forms.

Geometric —Based on simple shapes, such as straight lines, circles, or squares.