1977: Gerhard Richter: Colour fields

I have just discovered Gerhard Richter’s 1260 colours (1974) and 4900 colours (2007)
I came to it from the cover of a book I picked up by chance in the library while I was looking for Lucy Lippard’s Six Years.

The reason I went looking for Lippard’s book was that I happened to have picked up a withdrawn book in the library that they were giving away. This book, a grey, cloth-bound  hard-back had a faded title on the spine. When I picked it up I could just make out the Author’s name, Jack Burnham in red letters, inside the title read: Great Western Salt Works, Essays on the Meaning of Post-Formalist Art. It contained the seminal texts: Systems Esthetics, and Real Time Systems, plus many others. This was a fortuitous find.

Hmmm, I don’t remember how this became the reason I went looking for Six Years. But I had been reading Ed Shanken’s text Art in the Information Age: Technology and Conceptual Art, and here I first read about Jack Burnham, and it was here also that I was reminded of Lippard’s book.
So as I was looking on the shelf for Six Years, I came across another book nearby: Anne Rorimer’s New Art in the 60s and 70s: Redefining Reality, and on the cover was Richter’s 1260 colours.

New Art in the 60d and 70s, Redefining reality, Anne Rorimer

The cover shows a detail of Gerhard Richter’s 1260 Colours,

1260 Farben (1260 Colors)

1260 Farben (1260 Colors). Richter produced 6 arrangements of 1260 Colours in 1974 (six offset prints on card, 64.4 cm x 79.2 cm)

Richter started work on grid paintings as early as 1966, when he reproduced industrial colour charts as used by paint manufacturers. In 1971 the element of chance was introduced into his compositions, with the distribution of colours randomly decided, although there remained a white grid between the colour fields.

via: 4900 colours

The reason why the image on the cover of this book interested me is because I had just been creating similar grid works with html.

Screen Shot 2018-10-02 at 3.50.15 pmAnd this connected Richter to the project. He being the only unique result extracted from the 1977 Google Searches.

4900 colours

In the video below Hans Ulrich Obrist and Julia Peyton-Jones talk about the exhibition Gerhard Richter: 4900 Colours, Version II.

Gerhard Richter: 4900 Colours, Version II
Serpentine Gallery, London, UK
September 23, 2008 – November 23, 2008


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