Sol Lewitt-Wall Painting 118

2. Instructions and Procedural actions

Sol Lewitt once said that ‘all intervening steps, scribbles, sketches, drawings, failed work models, studies, thoughts, conversations are of interest. Those that show the thought process of the artist are sometimes more interesting than the final product.’ This phrase is a true reflection of the nature of Lewitt’s art. He attributes great importance to the creative process of an artwork rather than the end result.

“On a wall surface, any
continuous stretch of wall,
using a hard pencil, place
fifty points at random.
The points should be evenly
distributed over the area
of the wall. All of the
points should be connected
by straight lines. “ -Wall drawing 118

The instructions for this piece seem simpler than a lot of Sol Lewitt’s artworks, wherein the steps are simply to put fifty dots evenly within the surface of a canvas, and to connect each dot with straight lines. As simple enough of a premise or idea this is, it’s the execution which is what makes this artwork lengthy and difficult.

In the week 3 tutorial the group I was in were assigned this artwork. We all read the instructions and simultaneously nodded to say “It’s pretty simple”. So we placed the 50 dots evenly on the canvas and begun to connect each line to the other. Misunderstanding the instructions, we thought that we just had to make sure that each dot had to connect to to just form one long maze like line which goes through each dot, but when our tutor approached us and let us know that absolutely ALL of the dots had to be connected to each other, we then realised the difficulty.

We didn’t really have a plan, we just all began to connect dots to each other with the ruler which was frustrating. After 5-10 minutes of this we figured it would make more sense if we started with one dot and connected that one to everything else and do to the others. We did not end up completing the artwork as it would have taken many long hours to complete it, but by the end of the tutorial, this artwork’s concept was cemented into our minds.

What is interesting about this particular artwork is that by having the instructions simple, and not go specific into the procedures of creating the art, each attempt of this work will look quite different as a result. But like Lewitt has stated, the importance of his work is focused on the process. Our group during the tutorial simply had no “plan of attack”, but a more simple and less all over the place way of approaching the connection aspect is to focus on connecting the one singular dot to every other dot, and keep repeating until all dots are connected to each other. Though what is clear is that a significant amount of time will be taken creating this. This process of connecting the dots is by far the most difficult part of the artwork, but with strategic placing of dots to begin with, could be made easier. However strategic placing defeats the purpose of distributing randomly.

Here are two examples of what some completed works of this drawing looks like:

This first example seems to have followed the instructions perfectly as the dots are evenly distributed and each dot are connected to each other through straight lines. The artist strategically placed the dots so there are no clusters and spread them out to make the process of connecting dots a bit easier

This second example is different to the first as the dots don’t seem evenly distributed throughout the canvas. Whilst successful in connecting each dots through straight lines, the artist placed clusters of dots close to each other rather than spreading throughout which would have made the process of connecting each dot through straight lines more difficult.

Simplicity of instructions however does pose some problems. A criticism for the instructions for this art work is that “At random” and “Distributed evenly” contradicts each other, if we are trying to place the dots evenly along the surface of a canvas, is it really that random? This would influence one to count each dot located in one area of the canvas and using this to spread it, making the process more calculated, and in a way, less genuine and free flowing. The final instruction; “All of the points should be connected by straight lines” also could be misunderstood, my group being an example. A simple re-wording to “Every single point should be connected by straight lines” would assist in relinquishing confusion.

In conclusion, this artwork by Sol Lewitt is simple in premise, but difficult and lengthy in execution. Lewitt’s placing of great importance on the process in all of his art works tests the durability, accuracy, patience and sharpness of those who follow the instructions and shows in the final result.


“Work From Instructions”. N.p., 2016. Web. 17 Aug. 2016.
“Here Are The Instructions For Sol Lewitt’S 1971 Wall Drawing For The School Of The MFA Boston”. Observer. N.p., 2012. Web. 17 Aug. 2016.
dandelion & burdock, “Sol Lewitt: 17 Wall Drawings. 1970 – 2015”. thisistomorrow. N.p., 2016. Web. 17 Aug. 2016. N.p., 2016. Web. 17 Aug. 2016.

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