Friday, 3 October 2008

Richter - Painting by Numbers

Tomorrow I am giving a talk at the Serpentine Gallery about the new Gerhard Richter exhibition 4900 Colours. I must say that this exhibition has started to obsess me somewhat. The pictures consist of 96 25x25 colour girds. In this exhibition, he puts 4 together to make 49 10x10 colour grids in what he calls Version II. Richter produces the 25x25 colour paintings by randomly picking from a selection of 25 colours. I'll be considering questions tomorrow like: how many possible paintings are there? If they were laid out end to end how far would all the possibilities stretch? What is the chance that you get two colours together? three colours together? How many other versions are possible? (Richter details 11 possible variations.) In how many paintings will a colour be missing?

The exhibition is related to Richter's design for the stain glass windows at Koln cathedral except there he mirrors the random choice making something rather like a Rorschach ink-blot.

The intriguing thing is that when you look at these paintings you are searching out structure. It almost begs a mathematical viewpoint to appreciate them.

Serpentine Website

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