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Wired In!

For Grades 9–12

Sol LeWitt (American, 1928-2007). Wall Structure: Five Modules with One Cube, Black, 1965. Painted wood, 84 x 18 x 16 1/2 inches (213.4 x 45.7 x 41.9 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Gift of Robert Mangold and Sylvia Plimack Mangold, 1996. © 2010 The LeWitt Estate / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

“When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.”
– Sol LeWitt

Students will learn about Conceptual art and create formulas using words and numbers that will serve as instructions to generate works of art. After they try to guess which formula generated which work of art, they will debate whether the idea or the end product is more important.

Table of Contents

Activity: Conceptual Sculptures
New York State Learning Standards and Core Curriculum


  • Students will learn about Sol LeWitt
  • Students will learn how to make a work of Conceptual art
  • Students will synthesize learning in a presentation to the class describing what they did and why it is Conceptual art


TIP: Landline phone companies often donate colorful phone wire for class projects!


Show the Sol LeWitt Presentation.

Activity: Conceptual Sculptures

  • Ask students to use separate slips of paper to write down:
    • Any color
    • Any number
    • Type of line (horizontal, squiggly, curving, etc.)
    • Any shape
    • Any direction (north, south, up, down, etc.)
  • Collect the words from each category and pick words to complete the following instructions. (Remove the brackets after you insert the appropriate words.)
    1. [Color] [Shape(s)] with [Number] [Type of line(s)] connected to [Shape(s)]
    2. [Color] [Shape] next to [Number] [Shape(s)] with [Type of line] lines
    3. [Color] [Shape] with [Number] [Shape(s)] going [Direction]
  • Ask students to choose one of the above as the title for a sculpture, and keep it to themselves.
  • Have students create a wire sculpture with their chosen title.
  • Demonstrate how to use the wire and wire cutters (to avoid injury), and a few wire sculpture techniques such as bending, looping, twisting, braiding, etc. Use Wall Structure: Five Modules with One Cube, Black, 1965, on PowerPoint slide 7 as inspiration.
  • Display all the sculptures without their titles. Can students guess the title of each sculpture?
  • Display all sculptures of each title in a group. How are these sculptures like the Conceptual art that Sol LeWitt made? How are they different?
  • Discuss which is more important: the titles or the sculptures?


  • New York State Learning Standards for the Arts (Visual Arts, including the museum visit) 1, 2, 3, 4
  • New York State Learning Standard in Mathematics, Science and Technology 3
  • New York State Learning Standards for Mathematical Practice 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8
  • College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Language 1, 5, 6
  • College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 (when they debate whether the title or the artwork is more important in Conceptual art), 9, 11 (New York only)
  • College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening 1, 2, 3, 4, 6