Did Sol LeWitt Wear A Henry Ford Costume?

THE DAILY PIC: In the old factory that is now Dia Beacon, Sol LeWitt's abstractions paint a picture of manual labor.

MY DAILY PIC (#1697): Maybe it was the setting that did it.

The Dia Art Foundation collection is now displayed in the old Nabisco box-printing plant Upstate in Beacon, New York, and a recent visit got me seeing new implications in the Sol LeWitt wall drawings that live there.

In LeWitt’s Dia works (today’s Pic is a tight detail from one) he provides a few simple instructions as the “recipe” for a drawing, and then invites others to actually put it up on the wall ­– those “others,” for quite a while now, having consisted of a specially trained crew of art-laborers. In the context of the defunct Beacon box plant, LeWitt’s abstractions stop being about their entrancing patterns, or even about the victory of algorithms over the Old Master “hand of the artist.” Suddenly, LeWitt’s “abstractions” seem to depict a clear, almost allegorical scene: They carry us back to a moment in postwar capitalism, and let us watch an artist almost literally take control of the means of (art) production –not as a worker himself, but as another factory boss, an ideas-man with control over manual labor.

But by becoming an art-boss, did LeWitt mock and outdo the real tycoons out there, which was my first conclusion, or did he reveal the inescapable reach of their way of thinking? (Photo by Lucy Hogg)

For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

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