Strict Beauty Sol LeWitt Prints David S. Areford

Publication date:
13 Oct 2020
Yale University Press
288 pages: 260 x 222mm
416 color + 6 b-w illus.
Sales territories:


A landmark survey of Sol LeWitt’s printmaking practice

The conceptual artist Sol LeWitt (1928–2007) is best known for his programmatic wall drawings and modular structures, but alongside these works he generated more than 350 print projects, comprising thousands of lithographs, silkscreens, etchings, aquatints, woodcuts, and linocuts. This generously illustrated volume is the first to take a comprehensive look at LeWitt’s significant yet underexplored printmaking practice. Drawing together new archival research, interviews, and careful material and visual analyses, David S. Areford brilliantly situates LeWitt’s prints within the broader context of his serial-, system-, and rule-based approach to artmaking. The specific processes of print media, Areford argues, were perfectly suited for LeWitt’s particular brand of conceptual art, in which the “idea becomes the machine that makes the art.”
With over 400 illustrations, many never before published, this study offers a more complete picture of LeWitt’s oeuvre—and the essential place printmaking holds in it. The result will deepen the understanding not only of the variety of LeWitt’s output but of the genealogy of his distinct geometric and linear formal language.

David S. Areford is associate professor and department chair of art at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

New Britain Museum of American Art
(September 18, 2021–January 9, 2022)

Williams College Museum of Art
(February 18–June 12, 2022)

“Richly and beautifully illustrated...This is the seminal work for any admirers of Lewitt’s graphic work.”—Mychael Barratt PPRE, Printmaking Today

“David Areford offers a thorough and original account of Sol LeWitt’s printmaking practice that illuminates the larger conceptual issues within the artist’s oeuvre.”—Gwen Allen, San Francisco State University

Strict Beauty is a signal achievement. No other medium in which LeWitt worked, not even the wall drawings and structures, has received such a rigorous, exhaustively researched, comprehensive treatment. David Areford’s close looking and detailed analyses of the prints reveal unexplored dimensions of LeWitt’s practice.”—Charles W. Haxthausen, Williams College