Wall Drawing #839 by the American artist Sol LeWitt was originally created for the Oslo headquarters of insurance company Storebrand in the late nineteen-nineties. In 2017, the work was donated to the National Museum.
But how do you move an artwork that is over 30 metres long and painted directly onto a wall? We’ll come back to that question.
LeWitt was a very punctual man, he never got behind. He worked according to the same fixed schedule every day until his death in 2007. He was a man with a strong work ethic and a fondness for repetitive patterns. But he was not a rigid artist. Quite to the contrary, he wanted art to be more democratic.
After working as a graphic designer in an architect’s office, he became convinced that artists, like architects, could content themselves with producing sketches and concepts for others to execute.
Reading: (by Sindre Leganger)
“An architect doesn’t go off with a shovel and dig his foundation and lay every brick. He’s still an artist.”
… asserted LeWitt.
His first work came into being in 1969, and in the period to 2007, over a thousand very varied wall-drawings and wall-paintings were executed. Some of his works pulsate with tens of thousands of slender pencil lines, while others are dominated by towering geometric shapes in intense colours, as on this wall.
LeWitt created some of his walls in collaboration with students and artist colleagues in a truly democratic spirit. In other cases, he contented himself with creating a sketch and a set of instructions – a so-called certificate – which explained how the work should be created, before he left the work of painting and drawing entirely to others.
This certificate also gives the owner the right to move the work. It is just such a certificate – not the actual wall – that was donated to the museum by Storebrand. Since the work is not permitted to exist in two versions simultaneously, the wall at Storebrand’s headquarters was painted over once the wall here at the museum was completed.