Tuesday March 29, 2016
Tags for: The Cleveland Museum of Art Presents Converging Lines: Eva Hesse and Sol LeWitt
  • Press Release

The Cleveland Museum of Art Presents Converging Lines: Eva Hesse and Sol LeWitt

exterior of the CMA building

Exhibition opening April 3 celebrates the friendship of Eva Hesse and Sol LeWitt

Cleveland, OH (March 29, 2016) Converging Lines: Eva Hesse and Sol LeWitt explores the close friendship between two significant American artists of the postwar era: Eva Hesse (1936–1970) and Sol LeWitt (1928–2007). While their practices diverged in numerous ways, this exhibition illuminates the crucial impact of their friendship on both their art and their lives, featuring 50 works, including many that have not been publicly exhibited for decades. Organized by the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin, Converging Lines: Eva Hesse and Sol LeWitt is on view in The Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Exhibition Gallery April 3 through July 31, 2016. 

“The exhibition illustrates how Hesse and LeWitt each developed a very distinct aesthetic, making them two of the most influential artists of the past 50 years. At the same time it shows how they influenced each other by means of shared interests, serious debates and, above all, friendship,” said Reto Thüring, Cleveland Museum of Art’s curator of contemporary art and interim co-chief curator. 

Hesse and LeWitt first met in New York in the late 1950s. They and other artists, including Robert Mangold, Sylvia Plimack Mangold and Robert Ryman, as well as the art critic Lucy Lippard, all lived near each other on the Bowery in New York City and supported one another in various and significant ways. Despite the differences between their artistic processes, Hesse and LeWitt developed a close bond, evident in the extensive correspondence that ensued over the course of their friendship, which lasted more than a decade.


Wall Drawing #46

Wall Drawing #46: Vertical lines, not straight, not touching, uniformly dispersed with density covering the entire surface of the wall (detail), 1970. Sol LeWitt (American, 1928–2007). Pencil on wall; dimensions variable. LeWitt Collection, Chester, Connecticut. © 2015 The LeWitt Estate/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

For example, Wall Drawing #46 is a highlight in this exhibition and directly references the impact Hesse had on LeWitt. In 1970, upon learning of Hesse’s premature death at the age of 34, LeWitt created this artwork in her honor for a show in Paris.  The work consists of a wall covered with “not straight” pencil lines that LeWitt drew as a way of paying homage to the organic contours that were a hallmark of Hesse’s art.


Untitled, 1968. Eva Hesse (American, 1936–1970). Gouache, watercolor, silver paint, and pencil on paper; 22 1/8 x 15 1/4 in. Private collection. © The Estate of Eva Hesse. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth. 

Other highlights of Converging Lines include iconic sculptures and exquisite drawings by Hesse that illustrate the reverse: how LeWitt influenced Hesse’s evolution as an artist. Hesse was inspired by the rigid formal approach and the conceptual clarity that is a characteristic of LeWitt's work. An example of Hesse’s work includes Untitled. This artwork is marked by spare compositions, architectural structure and a cool color palette. The artist worked with great deliberation on building dense, abstract compositions by applying colors in multiple thin washes within geometric shapes. Expressing both discipline and freedom, Hesse’s interest in organic forms and gestural marks nevertheless is still visible in this drawing.

Wall Drawing #797 (detail), 1995. Sol LeWitt (American, 1928–2007). Black, red, yellow, and blue marker on wall; dimensions variable. LeWitt Collection, Chester, Connecticut. © 2015 The LeWitt Estate / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

A unique aspect to the Cleveland exhibition is Wall Drawing #797, first installed by LeWitt in 1995. The museum has gathered volunteers from the staff and community to participate in the installation of this work (under the supervision of LeWitt’s studio). To create the work, the first drafter has a black marker and makes an irregular horizontal line near the top of the wall. The second drafter attempts to copy it (without touching it) using a red marker, followed by a third and fourth drafter, using a yellow and a blue marker. The lines are drawn until the bottom of the wall is reached, changing dramatically as they are “copied”. In keeping with LeWitt’s standard practice, every volunteer will be listed on the label, which will be displayed in the exhibition.

Exhibition Catalogue

A scholarly catalogue of the same title, published by the Blanton Museum of Art, in association with Yale University Press, accompanies the exhibition and includes essays by Veronica Roberts, Lucy R. Lippard, and others. 

The catalogue celebrates the friendship of Hesse and LeWitt, and offers an illuminating look at their close-knit New York circle. Whereas previous scholarship has examined LeWitt’s impact on Hesse, this is the first publication to demonstrate that the artists influenced each other’s art and lives in reciprocal and profound ways.

Richly documented, this book includes a personal recollection by Lucy R. Lippard, a distinguished American art writer and critic who was a close friend of both artists. Also included are reproductions of 39 postcards LeWitt wrote to Hesse during his international travels, along with a poignant five-page letter that he sent Hesse, attesting to his belief in her talent; a previously unpublished interview from 2001 with LeWitt about his relationship with Hesse; and an illustrated chronology drawing upon interviews, photographs and primary documents from the time, shedding new light on the careers and personal lives of Hesse and LeWitt.

Programming Highlights 
In Conversation: Reto Thüring and Veronica Roberts 
Gallery talk 
Saturday, April 2, 2:00 PM, Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Exhibition Gallery

Join Reto Thüring, curator of contemporary art at the Cleveland Museum of Art, and Veronica Roberts, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Blanton Museum of Art, as they discuss works in Converging Lines: Eva Hesse and Sol LeWitt. Free, no reservations required. Meet at the atrium desk. 

Converging Lines: Eva Hesse and Sol LeWitt
is organized by the Blanton Museum of Art and made possible by the Henry Luce Foundation, Lannan Foundation, Agnes Gund, Jeanne and Michael Klein, and the Dedalus Foundation.

The Cleveland Museum of Art is generously funded by Cuyahoga County residents through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. The Ohio Arts Council helped fund this exhibition with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.

Presenting Centennial Sponsor: Key Bank

Supporting Centennial Sponsor: Eaton

Contact the Museum's Media Relations Team:
(216) 707-2261