I had the fortune to meet the late Sol LeWitt when we commissioned him a mural to be installed in 140 Franklin Street, one of our development projects in TriBeCa. I admired his simplicity, clarity of mind and flexibility.
His first design proposal didn’t seem appropriate to us and he gracefully accepted to change it to another version, in line with his previous work.
He had a deep love for Italy, where he painted the Barolo Chapel, a non consecrated small church that fell into disrepair over the years. LeWitt vision transformed this unknown corner of Italy’s countryside into an internationally recognized artistic destination.
Our Italian background and esthetics inspired him to create a lobby truly unique, in a building recognized by many as one of the finest Loft conversions in New York. LeWitt work was created in chromatically rich washes of India ink.
We spent long time to prepare the lobby dry-walls, applying several layers of joint compound, carefully sanded by a specialized crew. When we thought to have it just right, his assistants came to the site and told us that we needed at least one more coat of skimming and sanding, to hide every little imperfections in the walls surfaces.
Once the preparation was finally approved, a crew of people came to execute the installation of the mural. Writing about making wall drawings, LeWitt himself observed in 1971: “each person draws a line differently and each person understands words differently”.
Between 1968 and his death in 2007, LeWitt created more than 1,270 wall drawings. The wall drawings, executed on-site, generally exist for the duration of an exhibition; they are then destroyed, giving the work in its physical form an ephemeral quality. They can be installed, removed, and then reinstalled in another location, as many times as required for exhibition purposes. When transferred to another location, the number of walls can change only by ensuring that the proportions of the original diagram are retained.
It seems very appealing to me that the mural of 140 Franklin is still present in the Lobby, after all these years, as a testimony of his work, our Italian heritage and our love for creativity and art.
Photos by Marco Ricca