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Art Review: Sol LeWitt at L.A. Louver

February 10, 2011 |  7:15 pm

Back in 1967, Sol LeWitt (1928-2007) identified objects of Conceptual art as works that were “made to engage the mind of the viewer rather than his eye or his emotions.” The New York artist must not have been thinking clearly when he said that because his own art is all about engaging both the mind and the eye, with the emotions caught up in the mix. Sol LeWitt Installation

At L.A. Louver, a sharply focused show zeros in on LeWitt’s capacity to transform abstract ideas into concrete objects that viewers experience as slippery interminglings of drawing, painting and sculpture— while comparing and contrasting such physical entities with idealized images of geometric perfection, which inhabit the mind’s eye but never appear in the real world.

That’s the logic behind two masterpieces from 1974, both from LeWitt’s series of “Incomplete Open Cubes.”  These simple sculptures efficiently pit a viewer’s image of a perfect cube against the actual six-sided, approximately 4-foot-on-a-side form set unceremoniously on the floor, where it looks out-of-whack.

Sol LeWitt Incomplete Open Cube The only gallery without any sculpture in it embodies another one of the paradoxes that LeWitt’s art delights in: The space feels the fullest, as if it’s about to burst from the perceptual tug-of-war his wall paintings generate in your gut. Each depicts a rectangular volume, distorted to fit into LeWitt’s design, and then distorted even more to match the gallery’s dimensions.

The remaining works, three all-white structures and three multi-color gouaches, blur the boundaries between line and shape, line and space. They also show LeWitt at his best, making a mess of clear-cut distinctions between ideas and actuality by getting viewers emotionally involved with both.

 -- David Pagel

L.A. Louver, 45 N. Venice Blvd., Venice, (310) 822-4955, through Feb. 26. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Photos: Top, Sol LeWitt, installation view. Bottom, Sol LeWitt, "Incomplete Open Cube 9/2." Credit: L.A. Louver.