A Tribute to Sol Lewitt (1928-2OO7)by Dorothea Rockburne
My daughter Christine and I had planned to drive to Chester Connecticut to Sol’s funeral. That morning there was a terrible storm so, along with other friends of Sol’s, we took the train.
Christine first told me of Sol’s death. She said that when she’d been in high school she’d thought that when she grew up she wanted to be just like Sol. He was a close part of the family.
The funeral was held in a beautiful Synagogue that Sol had designed. That was so like him, to plan every detail of his life. As friends and artists spoke of his life the storm outside continued to rage as though in mourning for the loss of a great humanist and artist.
Sol and I were very close. Because of our work demands we sometimes saw little of one another but I always felt just a heartbeat away. We met in 1965. It’s been a long, loving friendship. I am godmother to Sol’s daughter, Eva. By the late sixties Sol began to inquire about my work and visited my studio regularly over the next five years or so commenting on this, making suggestions on that. Then in 1971, during the installation of my first one-person exhibit at Bykert Gallery, Sol stopped by to see how I was doing. The exhibition was an installation utilizing various materials and structurally based on the mathematical concept of Set Theory. Having glued a panel of chipboard to the wall I had second thoughts about its placement. I decided to change its position in the room and so I had to remove the panel and any glue from the wall and restore the wall to pristine condition- enter Sol.
By this time he was a famous international artist, traveling extensively for his work. Sol was aware of the time constraints for the installation. He promptly took off his jacket, got down on his hands and knees and helped me to carefully remove rubber cement from the wall. He stayed all day, volunteering to come back the next day, which fortunately wasn’t necessary. He came to my opening (Sol never went to openings, including his own) and briefly to the party afterwards, which was given by Lucy Lippard.
I am in mourning for the loss of this profoundly supportive friend, but I’m not sad. I’m experiencing the loss of a good friend, great artist, and future work that he might have done.