Reviewed December 2018
Suz Massen, Chief of Public Services
Frick Art Reference Library of The Frick Collection
Sol LeWitt Wall Drawings is a comprehensive catalogue raisonné recently released by Artifex Press. It continues the trend of its publisher creating quality content accessed through a user-friendly interface. Artifex launched in 2012 as a digital platform for catalogues raisonnés and adds new titles on a regular basis. Wall Drawings, the seventh catalogue of its publisher, is available through a single catalogue or all catalogues subscription. It focuses on the wall drawings Sol LeWitt began creating in 1968, covering approximately 1,350 drawings and 3,500 installations at more than 1,200 venues. LeWitt started Wall Drawings as a project before his death in 2007. Its Editor, Lindsay Aveilhé, and Director of Research, Christopher Vacchio, worked closely with the estate of the artist to produce a publication that updates and expands three previous catalogues that cover his wall drawings through 1992. Wall Drawings reconciles the cataloguing schemas that LeWitt used throughout his lifetime. It includes a methodology statement that lets users know how and why decisions were made related to the research compiled.
The ephemeral nature of LeWitt’s wall drawings lends itself well to the digital platform of the catalogue. Content can easily be updated with additional information such as new installations. Depending on the information available, catalogue entries generally include drawing number, title, previous titles, medium, owner, first installation, subsequent installations, and/or publication history. Related to the first installation, entries provide the names of the people who drew the initial work. The publication history links to other drawings in the catalogue that appeared in a particular source, allowing users to make connections among them. Drawing diagrams and/or notes can be found in many entries. The diagrams complement the installation photographs that accompany entries by illustrating the process of creating the drawings, which to LeWitt was more important than the final results. The notes detail specific aspects of drawings and installations that cannot be gleaned from basic descriptive information. Some entries link to related works in the catalogue and/or contain embedded installation videos. Wall Drawings successfully delivers information to users that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to obtain. Introductory essays for each drawing series, an illustrated chronology, writings by the artist, and selected bibliographies provide context to the entries, making the catalogue a valuable source for users who are familiar with LeWitt as well as users who are learning about him for the first time.
The content of Wall Drawings is accessible by browsing or searching. Users have the choice to browse by time period, medium, or series as well as a few other miscellaneous categories. These groupings allow users to see the evolution of LeWitt’s practice, and to compare drawings with similar themes and/or materials. The catalogue can be searched by keyword, title, or year. When seeking a particular drawing number, a keyword or title search for the number, without the proceeding hashtag, retrieves the needed entry. Owners and venues can be found through a keyword search. Since the installations of wall drawings are site specific and may change depending on their locations, it would be a nice addition to include a venue search separate from the keyword search. Also, adding an interactive map showing where drawings have been installed would enhance the already rich information offered by the catalogue and create another way to study them.