Sol LeWitt

A Wall Divided Vertically into Fifteen Equal Parts, Each with a Different Line Direction and Colour, and All Combinations


Sol LeWitt 1928–2007
Graphite on wall
Purchased 1973

Not on display

Display caption

LeWitt's wall drawings are executed by assistants from the artist's instructions. In this work, the lines are all equally spaced and drawn in coloured pencil. Each colour corresponds to a different type of line: yellow for horizontal, black for vertical, red for diagonal from left to right, and blue for diagonal from right to left. The lines are drawn in all possible combinations in fifteen rectangles, becoming denser from left to right. Through this layering, new colours and complex patterns emerge from LeWitt's simple set of rules.

Gallery label, August 2004

Catalogue entry

Sol LeWitt born 1928

T01766 Fifteen part Drawing using four Colours and all Variations (straight parallel Lines, each Colour in a different Direction) 1970

Not inscribed
Graphite on wall surface, dimensions variable (see below)
Purchased from the artist through the Lisson Gallery (Grant-in-Aid) 1973
Exh: Using Walls (Indoors), Jewish Museum, New York, May-June 1970 (works not numbered, diagram repr.); Sol Le Witt, Museum of Modern Art, New York, February-April 1978 (109), as 'Horizontal Color Composite'
Lit: Sol LeWitt, 'All Wall Drawings' in Arts, XLVI, February 1972, p.41, No.52

LeWitt's first wall drawing was executed, by LeWitt himself, at the Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, in October 1968. His first wall drawing using colour was executed at the Dwan Gallery, New York, in September 1969. T01766, which is No.52 in the chronological list of the wall drawings, was first executed in May 1970 by Al Williams, Chris Hansen and Nina Kayem for the exhibition Using Walls (Indoors) at the Jewish Museum, New York. A diagram of it was reproduced in the catalogue. LeWitt dates his wall drawings not by their date of conception but by the date they were first executed, so the date for this one is 1970. He adds that he would have executed it in an earlier year if he had had the chance. The following versions of it exist:

(i) a version in black and white in the form of a drawing on paper belonging to Jan Dibbets.
(ii) a coloured drawing on paper belonging to John Weber.
(iii) a coloured print (silkscreen).
(iv) a coloured drawing belonging to Martin and Mia Visser, Holland, in which each of the fifteen sections is presented in a separate (i.e. not touching) square.
(v) a version of (iv) in book form, published by the Lisson Gallery, London, in 1971. (In (iv) and (v) the idea is the same as in T01766 and in (i), (ii) and (iii), but the format is different).
LeWitt used to regard all his drawings on paper as being, in principle, blueprints for wall drawings, even if they were not executed with wall drawings in mind. But he no longer holds this view.

The owner of each wall drawing also acquires a 'certification' executed (on paper) and signed by LeWitt, which sets out the drawing in diagrammatic form and gives written instructions for its execution. This certification should be exhibited with the work, but is not itself a work of art or part of one. The Tate's certification is dated 'London, July 6, 1973'. T01766 consists of lines drawn in four colours - horizontal lines in yellow, vertical lines in black, diagonal lines running from bottom left to top right in red, and diagonal lines running from bottom right to top left in blue. These lines are to be drawn in all their possible single, double, triple and quadruple combinations in fifteen vertical rectangles of equal dimensions, in the following sequence reading from left to right:

Rectangle No.
1 Yellow
2 Black
3 Red
4 Blue
5 Yellow, Black
6 Yellow, Red
7 Yellow, Blue
8 Black, Red
9 Black, Blue
10 Red,Blue
11 Yellow, Black, Red
12 Yellow, Black, Blue
13 Yellow, Red, Blue
14 Black, Red, Blue
15 Yellow, Black, Red, Blue
The certification states that the lines are 'to be drawn using coloured graphite in lines about 1/16" to 1/8" apart consistently throughout; on a white wall, rendered by competent draughtsmen, placed in an adequate space, periodically painted out and redrawn to specification. The entire wall from floor to ceiling should be used.'

Only one executed version of this wall drawing may exist at any one time, but subject to that restriction it may be executed as often as the owner chooses. The coloured graphite with which it must be drawn is hard and was chosen partly for that reason. Graphite comes in certain colours only, so there is no problem as to which blue, yellow or red. The wall surface, or surfaces, on which it is drawn must be painted white.

Each of the fifteen sections of the drawing must be of equal importance and dimensions. The proportions of the drawing seen in its totality must be longer than they are high. So long as the whole of the surface employed is in a single room, and this surface is either actually continuous (this being preferable) or a 'single surface visually', the drawing may be executed on 1, 2, 3,4 or more actual walls. T01766 was one of the first of LeWitt's wall drawings in which the whole of the given wall surface is to be used. It thus stands at a turning point in his work, since the inability of the artist to control the exact dimensions and proportions of the horizontal rectangle (these being determined by each particular wall surface) introduces a further element of chance, and of decision-making by others, into LeWitt's own actual work.

T01766 employs only the three primary colours, plus the two non-colours of white (the drawing ground) and black. The particular orientation of a given colour in T01766 (yellow horizontal, red diagonal from bottom left to top right, etc.) is not invariable for that colour in all works by LeWitt, though it is of course invariable for it throughout this work. The opposition of yellow to black and of red to blue is, however, invariably adopted by LeWitt whenever these four hues are set out sequentially.

LeWitt considers T01766 to be his most important coloured drawing, since it employs all the basic colours, all their permutations, and all the directions. He describes it as being a summa of his work in colour, and a kind of treatise on colour. Though the certification is entitled 'Wall drawing | four basic colors (black, yellow, red and blue) and all combinations', this work figures in the list of his wall drawings published in Arts, February 1972 as 'Fifteen part drawing using four colors and all variations (straight parallel lines, each color in a different direction)', and this more explicit title has been adopted here.

It was executed at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1978 as part of the Sol LeWitt exhibition there by Akira Hagihara, Junko Kawashima, Martine Rapin, Stephan Stavris, Jo Watanabe, Qui Qui Watanabe and Mimi Wheeler, and at the Tate in April-May 1979 by Jo Watanabe, Susan Courteney, John Blake and Sharon Kivland. (This note is based mainly on information given by the artist on 6 July 1973).

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.427-9, reproduced p.427