Home » Sol Lewitt in Toronto!

Sol Lewitt in Toronto!

I went to the preview opening of the excellent new exhibition by famed American minimalist artist Sol Lewitt at the Toronto artist-run centre Mercer Union last night.

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The installation at Mercer Union. All images: VoCA

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Another view of the installation.

Lewitt’s wall drawings, which are painted directly on walls, and for which buyers purchase the instructions, caused quite a sensation back in the 1960s, one collector recalled, because “no one was doing anything like that”.

The exhibition was originally mounted in the gallery in 1981, and was recreated as part of the 30th anniversary year of Mercer Union. Click HERE for a very interesting review of the original show by John Bentley Mays.

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There’s also, in the back room, some vitrines displaying books on Lewitt’s work that offer fascinating insight into the work. The catalogues came from the collection of a local collector and are a fantastic compliment to the wall drawings.

How did Sol Lewitt come to show his work at Mercer Union in the first place? The story, as told to me by Mercer co-director York Lethbridge, goes like this:

One of (Mercer’s) original board members, Michael Davey, had met Sol LeWitt while completing graduate studies in Scotland in the ’70s. LeWitt and Davey kept up correspondence, so when Mercer Union was starting out, looking for diverse programming, Davey invited LeWitt to do a project at 29 Mercer Street (our first gallery space). Given the board was bootstrapping operations, LeWitt agreed to work with the artists on the board to install the work, so he came to Toronto with his assistant and future wife Carol Androccio and completed the drawing in 2 days with help from then board members Peter Blendell, Michael Davey, Jamie Lyons, Robert McNealy, Jaan Pooldaas, Judith Schwarz, Renee van Halm, Cheryl West and Robert Wiens. LeWitt also showed work with the David Bellman gallery, who, I think, helped pay for his travel.”

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Some of the catalogues on display.

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Apparently, this installation is only the second time the work has ever been shown. It would have been appropriate for the AGO or the Power Plant, but as a former board member of MercerUnion, I’m proud that Mercer is looking so good.

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I encourage people to support the upcoming exhibitions spaces in Canada – Mercer’s mandate is to show innovative projects by living contemporary artists, and artist-run centres are essential spaces run by artists for artists that support the exhibition of new work where there isn’t always yet a strong market.

The show will be on July 10 – August 28, 2010, and the opening party is tomorrow (Saturday) from 2 – 5 pm, with a talk by Anthony Sansotta, an expert draughtsman who worked with Sol LeWitt for many years at 3 pm.

Please click HERE for Mercer Union’s website, where you’ll find more info and upcoming exhibitions etc.

3 Responses to “Sol Lewitt in Toronto!”

  1. AC says:

    Wow Randall – Great to hear about your Gallery Too in Vancouver, thanks for posting the link above. If you send some photos and info, I’d love to republish them on VoCA…

  2. Danger Flower says:

    Why do we need to keep revisiting these “innovations”? Are these artists short on new “innovative” ideas? Fluxus, General Idea, now Lewitt….I think galleries only do this to market themselves, latching on to what dregs of fame they can.
    PLEEZE! Can we say cash grab? Grant grab?

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