Meet Artist Eva LeWitt, The Reluctant Minimalist
It’s fitting that Eva LeWitt’s Lower East Side studio was once an accordion shop. The layout of the property—from its narrow storefront entry to its small, alcove side room extended onto the back—mimics the shape of the musical instrument. The New York–based artist has always been drawn to the oddball architectural quirks that have managed to survive in the neighborhood. Her father, the late icon of conceptual art Sol LeWitt, had his own workspace right around the corner, and Eva spent much of her childhood there painting by his side. “The area,” she says, “is definitely home for me.”
At 34, LeWitt has received acclaim for her colorful, room-stretching sculptures, which incorporate sheets of plastic, rubber, and polyurethane to create suspended curtain-like forms that play with the purity of minimalism and the vibrancy of abstraction. Recent pieces, including a floral-inspired installation she did for New York’s Jewish Museum in 2018, have a blithe playfulness about them, the seeming lightness of form contrasting the rigor of material and composition. Lately, she has been hard at work cutting through swaths of blue fiberglass mesh for her upcoming show at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art. Scheduled to opening last March before the coronavirus pandemic caused the museum to temporarily close, the site-specific installation, a 47-foot-long curtain composed of overlapping mesh layers in bright shades of tangerine and yellow, will occupy an entire wall of the museum’s lobby. Depending on the viewer’s perspective, the tightly woven material will appear to shift in color and pattern (creating a sidewinding illusion known as a moiré effect). “I want it to be light on its toes,” she says of the piece. “Not this big, oppressive wall.”
Whereas her father was famous for creating complex works without any evidence of his authorial hand, LeWitt’s wall pieces have her fingers all over them. “There’s a lot I take from his work,” she says about her father’s influence, “but I’ve taken things from a lot of other work I see, too.” She cites artists including Eva Hesse, Dorothea Rockburne, and Pat Steir as guiding lights. Perhaps the biggest gift her father bestowed upon her was the freedom to become an artist in the first place. “I never had to convince my family and friends that this was a worthwhile endeavor,” she says. “I always want my work to be earning its keep—to be working. It’s got to be doing something even when I’m not there.”
Hair: Rubit Jones using Ouai at Julian Watson Agency.
Makeup: Caoilfhionn Gifford at Streeters.
Photography Assistant: Justin Leveritt.
Fashion Assistant: Imaan Sayed.
Hair Assistant: Laura Barney.