Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Hanne Darboven, German (Munich, Germany 1941 - 2009 Hamburg, Germany)
Letter and Indices to 24 Songs
Other Titles
Series/Book Title: Letter and Indices to 24 Songs
Work Type
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Portfolio of 16 ink drawings on translucent vellum paper
The artist, gift; Sol LeWitt, 1974, gift; Busch-Reisinger Museum, 2001
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Gift of Carol and Sol LeWitt
© Hanne Darboven / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art
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"Letter and Indices to 24 Songs" consists of 16 drawings. Four of these are a letter dated July 9/10, 1974, from the artist to Sol LeWitt, which enables us to date the accompanying 12 drawings. These drawings are the indices to her composition "24 Gesänge" (24 songs or cantos). Darboven’s letter explains some aspects of the songs: Each song is dedicated to a letter of the alphabet, a through x, and each is composed in three parts (I, II, III) and two forms ("A" and "B"). A form uses numbers 1-61 and B form uses numbers 1-10, and both use her characteristic repetitive u (und keine Worte mehr?). In the letter, Darboven writes that she is sending Sol the indices to songs 1, 6, 12, 13, 19, and 24.

NB: "24 Songs" appears to be connected to another work of the same title consisting of over 1000 sheets that was exhibited jointly at Leo Castelli and Sonnabend Galleries in New York in 1975. The BRM indices to both A and B forms of her songs resemble the A form of the larger work, insofar as they develop vertically. (The A form in the larger work develops vertically; in contrast, the B form develops horizontally. The directional development may relate to the form of the songs: the A form songs are trapezoidal while the B form songs are triangular.)
Publication History

Kelly Baum, Andrea Bayer, and Sheena Wagstaff, Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New Haven, London, 2016), pp. 233, 283, fig. 182-85, ill.

Related Works

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