Chris Teerink’s superb film documents the work of artist Sol LeWitt (1928-2007), whose legacy lies not only in past accomplishments, but in the work he left for others to complete.
LeWitt made his name in the 1960s, creating cube-based sculptures and geometric paintings so revolutionary that they triggered the formation of the Minimal and Conceptual art movements.
But it is LeWitt’s “wall drawings,” as he termed them, which Teerink means to celebrate. While interviewing LeWitt’s colleagues and admirers, Teerink keeps cutting back to a museum in the Netherlands circa 2011, where eight artists are installing LeWitt’s Wall Drawing No. 801: Spiral.
With LeWitt’s measurement-filled sketches as their only guide, the eight stand on platforms in an enormous white-walled cupola and create steadily expanding, perfectly measured concentric circles, marked not with paint, but with blue masking tape.
By film’s end, the purpose behind the blue tape is revealed in all its stunning simplicity and profound beauty. In the interim, Teerink paints a portrait of an intensely modest man who relished the idea of other artists carrying out his ideas, and, in the process, extending a given idea further than he himself had imagined. Art, LeWitt said, should be an “irrational leap into the unknown.”