An Early Painting by Sol LeWitt

A far cry from his minimalist work, Untitled, Standing Figure, (1960) is a small oil painting (6 1/4″ x 10″ ) by Sol Lewitt which is up for auction next week at Doyle in New York.

It was probably created around the time he started working at the MoMA along with other soon to be minimalists (Dan Flavin, Robert Mangold, etc.) and it appears to represent the artist’s early experiments with paint and seemingly under the spell of Nicolas de Staël. Here he uses his palette knife to tear apart and reassemble the subject of his canvas.

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Doing the math, I figured out LeWitt would have created this work at the age of 32 or 33 and I think it’s fair to characterize this as a painting by an artist nowhere near his prime.

Why does that matter? Well, the New Museum’s latest YOUNGER THAN JESUS show chose 33 yrs old as the cutting off point for artists on display (Jesus was supposedly that age when he died).

Knowing that most (if not almost all) visual artists aren’t anywhere near their artistic peak at the age of 33 sure makes me suspicious of the New Museum’s artificial boundary.

I interviewed artist Dan Witz earlier this week who told me: “Back in 1980, it seemed that only middle-aged white guys were getting exhibitions in galleries. There was nothing for kids like me.”

“Now it’s the opposite,” I joked. “You either have to be an embryo or right out of art school to make a splash and land a dealer.”

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