LONDON.- Gerhard Richter is one of the worlds greatest living artists. Since the early 1960s, he has tirelessly explored the medium of painting at a time when many were heralding its death. He has produced a remarkably varied body of work, including photography-based portrait, landscape and still-life paintings; gestural and monochrome abstractions; and colour chart grid paintings.
The Serpentine Gallery presents 4900 Colours, a major new work comprising bright monochrome squares randomly arranged in a grid formation to create stunning sheets of kaleidoscopic colour. The 196 square panels of 25 coloured squares can be re-configured in a number of variations, from one large-scale piece to multiple, smaller paintings. Richter has developed a version comprised of 49 paintings especially for the Serpentine Gallery.
4900 Colours is parallel to Richters design for the south transept window of Cologne Cathedral, which replaced the stained glass that was destroyed in World War II. The window, unveiled in August 2007, comprises 11,500 hand-blown squares of glass in 72 colours that are derived from the palette of the original Medieval glazing. The seemingly arbitrary distribution of colours was generated using a specially developed computer programme and this renewed interest in using chance to define composition led the artist to develop the concept for 4900 Colours.
Richter produced the first in his series of grid paintings in 1966 in which he replicated, in large scale, industrial colour charts produced by paint manufacturers. As with his photo-paintings, the use of found material as a source removed the subjective compositional preferences of the artist, however, the Colour Chart Paintings took this a step further, eradicating any hierarchy of subject or representational intent, and focusing on colour to create an egalitarian language of art.
Since 1964, Richter has had more than 100 solo exhibitions worldwide. He represented Germany at the 36th Venice Biennale in 1972 and was the subject of a major touring retrospective, Forty Years of Painting, at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 2002.
The Serpentine Gallery exhibition is curated by Gallery director Julia Peyton-Jones, co-director Hans Ulrich Obrist, and exhibition curator Rebecca Morrill. It precedes two other major presentations of the artists work in the UK in 2008 and 2009: at the National Gallery Complex, Edinburgh from 8 November 2008 and at the National Portrait Gallery, London from 26 February 2009.