May 24, 2011

40,000 Carrés / 40,000 Squares

The idea for Morellet’s “40,000 Carrés” silkscreens originates in his 1960 painting “Random Distribution of 40,000 Squares using the Odd and Even Numbers of a Telephone Directory”.

Morellet had been inspired in his use of chance systems in part by the 1917 collages of Jean Arp and Sophie Taeuber, where small irregular shaped pieces of different colored paper are positioned in a seemingly haphazard way on a larger sheet, as if if scattered there by chance. Morellet also wanted to have to make the smallest number of subjective decisions in the creation of a painting; and in the selection of the colors, chosen so both are of equal intensity, he aimed for a striking, and sometimes unsettling, visual interplay.

To create the painting “Random Distribution of 40,000 Squares…” Morellet first drew a pencil grid, 200 x 200, creating the 40,000 small squares, and then his wife or sons would read out phone numbers at random from the telephone book (omitting the first repetitive numbers or local codes). Morellet would mark the square in pencil if the number was even and leave it blank if it was odd, and then go back and paint all the marked squares one color and the unmarked the other.