Unlike the majority of exhibitions concerning the artist Sol LeWitt (1928–2007),
this one does not include his work, but rather the work of others who have either influenced the artist or for whom the artist has felt an affinity. Going one step further, the works presented are not those of visual artists, but rather composers, known for their contributions to the field of music and, in particular, Western music since the Baroque period.
The Music Collection is just what the title of the exhibition implies, a view into LeWitt’s amassing of both scores by contemporary composers and an encyclopedic library of recorded music. The collection of recordings, personally transferred by the artist from vinyl and radio onto the medium of cassette tape, represents thirty years of effort (the most recent tape dates from 2002). The cassettes, which lined the walls of a small room in the artist’s Chester, Connecticut, home, have been installed at The Aldrich to mimic their original organization on white wooden shelves. The consecutive numbers on the spines of the cassettes and their notation in an accompanying logbook catalogue 3,970 individual tapes.
LeWitt was a well-known collector of contemporary art, with his collection numbering over 11,000 objects. Contained within this collection are twenty-six scores written by contemporary composers, including Steve Reich, Philip Glass, John Cage, Roland Dahinden, Alvin Lucier, and Walter Hekster. This exhibition presents a handful of these scores, three by Reich, one by Glass, and one “hybrid” score by Cage, all composers particularly relevant to LeWitt’s practice as a visual artist.
The Music Collection is a glimpse into LeWitt’s passionate and sustained interest in music over the course of a career. The Aldrich is grateful to Carol and Sofia LeWitt for generously allowing the Museum to move Sol’s tape collection to its temporary home in Ridgefield. Special appreciation goes to Janet Passehl, curator of the LeWitt Collection, for her detailed help in every aspect of the organization of this exhibition. We are thankful to Farrow & Ball, Westport, for supplying the paint that allowed us to accurately recreate the ambiance of Sol’s music room.
Richard Klein, Exhibitions Director.
Selections from Glenn Gould’s 1962 recording of J. S. Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier are presented in the gallery during the exhibition. This recording is included in the LeWitt music library and was one of the artist’s favorite interpretations of Bach’s work.