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Lines in Four Directions in Flowers Sol LeWitt, American Commissioned by the Fairmount Park Art Association in 1981 Realized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2012 in cooperation with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Flower plantings, evergreen hedges, gravel paths


Sol LeWitt: Lines in Four Directions in Flowers

May 24, 2012–April 5, 2015

In 1981, leading conceptual artist Sol LeWitt (American, 1928–2007) was invited by the Fairmount Park Art Association (currently known as the Association for Public Art) to propose a public artwork for a site in Fairmount Park. He selected the long, rectangular plot of land known as the Reilly Memorial and submitted a drawing with instructions. Installed thirty years after its conception, Lines in Four Directions in Flowers is a work of monumental scale, made up of more than 7,000 plantings arranged in strategically configured rows. In his original proposal, the artist describes an installation of flower plantings of "four different colors (white, yellow, red & blue) in four equal rectangular areas, in rows of four directions (vertical, horizontal, diagonal right & left) framed by evergreen hedges of about 2' height. In the winter the rows of plants would retain their linear direction, in the summer the flowers would bloom and provide the color."

Sol LeWitt: Lines in Four Directions in Flowers will be on view over the next two years at its intended site, with perennial flowers blooming throughout the horticultural season. Landscape architecture and urban design firm OLIN was responsible for overseeing the interpretation and execution of LeWitt's design. Groundswell Design Group, LLC, a landscape architect design-and-build firm, planted the flowers, which were grown at the Perennial Farm in Glen Arm, Maryland. Groundswell will maintain the garden throughout the duration of its two-year installation.


Main Building

About the Artist

Sol LeWitt was born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1928. After studying fine arts at Syracuse University, LeWitt served in the Korean War producing posters for the United States army. In 1953, LeWitt moved to New York where he held a position as a draftsman for architect I.M. Pei, which instilled in him an early appreciation for geometric precision and collaboration. Later, LeWitt worked as a receptionist at the Museum of Modern Art where he was surrounded by a community of artists who sought a new direction for art-making and who encouraged LeWitt to pursue art as a profession. Sol LeWitt was a pioneer of the 1960s Conceptual Art movement, emphasizing the importance of ideas over the material aspects of a work of art. In his practice, he uses an aesthetic of basic geometric shapes and repeated lines to reflect a sophisticated engagement with a world beyond the perceptual. He articulated the principles of his work in two seminal texts entitled Paragraphs on Conceptual Art (1967) and Sentences on Conceptual Art (1969).

Known initially for his sculptures that use open, modular structures originating from the cube, the artist began devising wall drawings in 1968, for which the owner of each piece received only a set of instructions. In Philadelphia, LeWitt is best known for the blue barrel-vaulted ceiling of geometric patterns in the Museum's modern and contemporary galleries entitled On a Blue Ceiling, Eight Geometric Figures: Circle, Trapezoid, Parallelogram, Rectangle, Square, Triangle, Right Triangle, X (Wall Drawing No. 351), which has been on view at the Museum since 1981. As with his instructions for the proposed garden, LeWitt left the execution of the ceiling to the hands of others. Another drawing by LeWitt in the Museum's collection is Location of a Circle from 1973.

In the 1980s, LeWitt began working with cinder blocks. Two examples of such structures are located in the Anne d'Harnoncourt Sculpture Garden where LeWitt's Steps and Pyramid, realized in 2010, are currently installed. In the 1990s, random curvilinear shapes and highly saturated colors became present in his structures. An example of one of these later works in the Museum's collection is LeWitt's Splotch from 2003, defined by vibrant colors and mountainous contours.

Allowing for a collaborative and participatory network of ideas, LeWitt's artwork activates both the physical domain of the art itself as well as the ideological arena of human thinking. Free from the artist's literal hand, his methodology is often likened to that of a composer whose precise instructions are vulnerable to interpretation with every performance.


Sol LeWitt: Lines in Four Directions in Flowers was made possible by a generous grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts and executed in partnership with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, courtesy of the Estate of Sol LeWitt.


Carlos Basualdo • The Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Curator of Contemporary ArtAlice Beamesderfer • Deputy Director for Collections and Exhibitions

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