'Converging Lines' at CMA Highlights Two Artists' Enduring Friendship

click to enlarge Run I, 1962. Sol LeWitt (American, 1928–2007). Oil on canvas and wood; 63 1/2 x 63 1/2 x 3 1/2 in. LeWitt Collection, Courtesy Pace Gallery, New York. © 2015 The LeWitt Estate / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Run I, 1962. Sol LeWitt (American, 1928–2007). Oil on canvas and wood; 63 1/2 x 63 1/2 x 3 1/2 in. LeWitt Collection, Courtesy Pace Gallery, New York. © 2015 The LeWitt Estate / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Beginning Sunday, April 3, the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Gallery at the Cleveland Museum of Art hosts the CMA’s latest Centennial Exhibition, Converging Lines: Eve Hesse and Sol Lewitt.

Converging Lines celebrates the friendship of two of the most important artists of the post-WWII era. Converging Lines includes many works which haven’t been publicly exhibited in decades. Despite their very different artistic processes, Eva Hesse (1936-1970) and Sol LeWitt (1928-2007) developed a close friendship that lasted more than a decade.

“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,” explains Reto Thüring, Cleveland Museum of Art’s curator of contemporary art and interim co-chief curator. “At the same time it shows how they influenced each other by means of shared interests, serious debates and, above all, friendship.”

Hesse and LeWitt first met while living near each other on the Bowery in New York City in the late 1950s. The Bowery was home to several other prominent artists, including Robert Mangold, Sylvia Plimack Mangold and Robert Ryman, as well as art critic Lucy Lippard.

Converging Lines explores the artists’ friendship through works such as Wall Drawing #47, featuring “not straight” pencil lines inspired by Hesse’s hallmark organic contours. The work was created for a show in Paris in response to the news of Hesse’s premature death in 1970 at the age of just 34.

The exhibition includes iconic sculptures and masterful drawings by Hesse that illustrate the influence LeWitt’s “conceptual clarity and systematic formal approach” had on Hesse’s growth as an artist.

A unique highlight of Converging Lines is Wall Drawing #797. First installed by LeWitt in 1995, this installation of the work was performed by volunteers from the CMA’s staff and community, under the supervision of LeWitt’s studio. The work is created by the first drafter making an irregular horizontal line near the top of the wall. The second volunteer attempts to copy it (without touching it) using a red marker. Subsequent volunteers continue using yellow and blue markers until the bottom of the wall is reached. Each volunteer is listed on the wall label in the exhibition.

In support of the exhibition, the CMA has planned a gallery talk with Reto Thüring and Veronica Roberts, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Blanton Museum of Art, at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 2. The talk is free and no reservations are required. Meet at the atrium desk.

Additionally, Converging Lines: Eva Hesse and Sol LeWitt is accompanied by a scholarly catalogue of the same title, published in association with Yale University Press. This fully illustrated catalogue includes essays by Veronica Roberts and Lucy R. Lippard. The catalogue also includes a previously unpublished interview from 2001 with LeWitt discussing his friendship with Hesse, a five-page letter from LeWitt attesting to his belief in Hesse’s talent and reproductions of 39 postcards LeWitt sent to Hesse during his travels abroad and more.

Learn more at Converging Lines, on view at the CMA through Sunday, July 31. 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.

(Cleveland Museum of Art) 11150 East Blvd., 216-421-7350, clevelandart.org

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