Sol Lewitt “Don’t worry about cool”

This is from a letter written in 1965 by  Sol Lewitt (b. 1928) in response to Eva Hesse (b.1936)  ….during another period of doubt and difficulty.  It is timeless.  It remains some of the best advice anyone has ever given an artist in peril, towards overcoming creative block, and likely one of the most shared letters.

Sol Lewitt b.1928

Sol Lewitt b.1928

“Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping,…Stop it and just DO!…

Don’t worry about cool, make your own uncool. Make your own, your own world. If you fear, make it work for you – draw & paint your fear and anxiety…

You must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. Then you will be able to DO!…
Try to do some BAD work – the worst you can think of and see what happens but mainly relax and let everything go to hell – you are not responsible for the world – you are only responsible for your work – so DO IT. And don’t think that your work has to conform to any preconceived form, idea or flavor. It can be anything you want it to be…
I know that you (or anyone) can only work so much and the rest of the time you are left with your thoughts. But when you work or before you work you have to empty you [sic] mind and concentrate on what you are doing. After you do something it is done and that’s that. After a while you can see some are better than others but also you can see what direction you are going. I’m sure you know all that. You also must know that you don’t have to justify your work – not even to yourself.”

Eva Hesse, 1959 by Stephen Korbet

Eva Hesse, 1959 by Stephen Korbet

 

About

Üla Einstein is a practicing exhibiting multi-disciplinary artist living and working in NYC (http://ulaeinstein.com) As a Creativity Coach, she activates and invigorates creative potential. Private sessions usually over the phone, long term, short term, and one-time laser coaching available. ASK ME EMAIL: coachulaeinstein at gmail dot com

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13 comments on “Sol Lewitt “Don’t worry about cool”
  1. so true and so difficult.—to accept -and be that way–

  2. This goes on my studio wall. Every artist experiences this throughout a creative life. At nearly sixty-five, I know. I’ve been there too many times. The seed of that monster is the market place. Radical gestures, just short of the infamous “paint brush through the canvas”, usually gets me past that wall. Works that were abandoned, and reviewed, sometimes years later, prove that what Eva writes in her letter to Sol, is perfectly on the mark. In the end, being in the studio, alone, is all we need, but thanks for the reminder.

  3. Roos Theuws says:

    Dear Ula Einstein,
    I was really moved by your posting on this site; I keep quoting this wonderful text by Sol Lewitt to my own students at the Gerrit Rietveld Akademie in Amsterdam, pointing out that this segment is only one minor part of a letter that Sol L. wrote to Eva Hesse (published at full length in Lucy Lippard’s catalogue about Eva Hesse.
    Thank you so much, it really makes sense to pick this segment,

    • ULA says:

      Thank you Roos for letting me know. I consider Eva Hesse my kindred spirit, Lewitt’s letter timeless and consistently resonating with so many!

  4. Emily says:

    I love this so very much! Thanks for sharing :-)

    • ULA says:

      You’re welcome thank you, thank everyone for letting me know
      this timeless classic resonates! Üla

  5. Grace Fishenfeld says:

    I wish Eva Hesse had a longer and happier life. There is no doubt that she was an original. She was a feminist- before the feminists became powerful.
    Her mind was involved with creation and not communication. That would have been too encumbering. She produced a lot considering her short life. May her contribution live longer than her 34 years.

  6. gerrit says:

    This is relevant for where I am right now, thanks.

  7. ted stanuga says:

    “You also must know that you don’t have to justify your work – not even to yourself.”

    • Barbara says:

      A crying shame that the opposite is now taught in art schools the world over. Young artists are made to believe that the ‘artist’s statement’ is more important than the visual impact and technical skills of the artwork itself, and that everything they make has to be justified and defended – in writing.

  8. Sally says:

    This applies to all the arts. Writers’ block has plagued me for years now. I feel that this contribution by you, Ula, is definitely a step in the right direction. Thank you.

  9. All his advice is absolutely true – all resonates with me and it is exactly as I now work and have done for some years

  10. Betty says:

    It’s an amazing paragraph in support of all the web visitors; they will get
    advantage from it I am sure.

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  1. […] on cool and my day. using balled up mountains of existential energy towards a saturday of creating any and all art. […]

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