Realism(s) #17, or: blanc merité

OPALKA 1965 / 1 - ∞ [detail] - Roman Opalka, 1965-2011, acrylic on canvas


In 1965, Roman Opalka started counting from one to infinity, recording every number on a series of 196 x 135 cm canvases. Since 1972, each new grey canvas was gradually whitened by approx. 1% each time, and by 2008 the paintings consisted entirely of white upon white. Opalka painted into this void for three years before completing the work at the only possible point: his death, on August 6th, 2011. An obituary in the bourgeois press, perhaps impressed by the almost mechanical rationality of this exercise, noted: 'Some critics saw his project as a sort of suicide, and he did not altogether dispute that.'