About photobooks – old and new.
4to, published in 1980 by Multiples Inc. and Lois and Michael K. Torf (first edition)
Softcover with photographically illustrated dust jacket, 126 pages.
“Autobiography” is a photographic inventory of LeWitt’s objects in his living and working space in New York City. The series starts with a general description of the space, floor, ceiling, pipes and plumbing. The following pages focus on more personal possessions, such as tools, furniture, books, art materials, family photographs and pieces of art, among others. There is a progression from presenting structural elements of the space to more specific and personal objects, revealing clues as to how LeWitt lives and works, and what he likes to be surrounded by.
Despite the fact that LeWitt’s purpose is mainly personal and intimate, he photographed common objects that do not seem that personal. Taken together they give a sense of LeWitt’s daily and work life, but they only tell us part of the story. A much deeper and subjective significance associated to LeWitt’s personal memories remains untold. A bunch of kitchen pans, a chair or a hammer, are, for the external viewer, just common objects. For Sol LeWitt they can be a lot more than that: they can be associated to personal life events and may have gained a sentimental value. In that sense, this catalogue of personal possessions tells us something about Sol LeWitt, as much as it hides a lot as well.
Surprisingly, these objects are presented without any evident personal attachment. They are organized in typologies, with a systematic arrangement of nine photos per page in a grid format. This formal and rigid visual arrangement is reminiscent of an archeological catalogue, rather than a personal and intimate biography. This typological language is, however, very similar to LeWitt’s overall artistic approach, epitomized by his wall drawings and color grids. In this regard, “Autobiography” has to be understood in the context of LeWitt’s overall conceptual art, which is more about how art conveys meaning and an intellectual experience, rather than an intuitive and intimate one.