What happens when a swanky hotel and an open-minded art gallery come together? You get a permanent outdoor installation that celebrates the art of graffiti. Currently on the wall of Mondrian SoHo are 120 photographs of New York’s Lower East Side taken by Sol LeWitt in 1979.
Called On the Walls of the Lower East Side, the outdoor exhibition shows the decayed landscape of the neighborhood in lower Manhattan where LeWitt then had his home and studio. Graffiti covered walls were abundant in the area, and LeWitt shoots mostly images of political scrawls, torn posters and splattered paint in a straight-forward way that is, in essence, social documentary.
Sol Lewitt believed that walls are public while books are private, but that they each provide the same information through extremely different formats. As he once wrote, “When one sees a wall, it is the impact of the whole that is understood at once-emotionally more than intellectually. It is only by reading the wall that the viewer understands it fully.” The 20-feet high by 60-feet wide installation provides an opportunity for this work to be seen in the context of the community that inspired it.
This marks the first time that this series has been exhibited in New York.
Photo credit: Estate of Sol LeWitt / ARS. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York