Sol LeWitt was an American artist linked to conceptual art and minimalism who came to fame in the 1960s. He passed away in 2007, but more than just a visual artist, he was apparently a writer, based on a fantastic letter penned to fellow artist Eva Hesse.
Also an American artist, Hesse was a little younger than Sol and seeking guidance as she ushered in the postminimal art movement of the same era—but a brain tumor cut her life short. She died at 34 after a career spanning only ten years.
A passionate letter from Sol to Eva was read at the recent British event Letters Live, during which actors “perform” letters to a live audience. The synopsis of Sol’s letter reads as follows:
In 1960, pioneering American artists Sol LeWitt and Eva Hesse met for the first time and became close friends. In 1965, Eva found herself facing a creative block during a period of self-doubt, and told Sol of her frustrating predicament. Sol replied with this letter.
As an artist, have you ever been there? Ever wanted to give up? Ever wanted to just stop? Read by my beloved Benedict Cumberbatch (with an American accent and a noteworthy Chevy Chase/Christmas Vacation meltdown), this letter speaks to me.
As I currently struggle to write a very difficult novel, I command all the creatives out there, all the artists, listen … and DO. Watch the video. (And below the video, I’ve included my favorite quotes from Sol.)
“Stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder, wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting. Hoping for some easy way out … and just DO.”
“Don’t worry about cool. Make your own uncool.”
“If life would be easier for you if you stopped working, then stop. Don’t punish yourself. However, I think that this is so deeply ingrained in you that it would be better for you to DO.”
“Learn to say FUCK YOU to the world every once in a while.”
“Relax and let everything go to hell. You are not responsible for the world. You’re only responsible for your work, so just DO IT.”
“When you work or before you work, you have to empty your mind and concentrate on what you’re doing.”
“You don’t have to justify your work, not even to yourself.”
“Try the most outrageous things you can. Shock yourself. You have at your power the ability to DO anything.”