Serpentine unveils major new public sculpture by Gerhard Richter
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Serpentine unveils major new public sculpture by Gerhard Richter
STRIP-TOWER (2023) by Gerhard Richter 2024, Gerhard Richter, Prudence Cuming Associates.

LONDON.- Serpentine and The Royal Parks announced the unveiling of a new large-scale sculpture by German artist Gerhard Richter (b. 1932, Dresden, Germany; lives and works in Cologne, Germany). Situated on the plinth at Serpentine South, in Kensington Gardens, STRIP-TOWER (2023) will be staged from 25 April to 27 October 2024. It will be the latest presentation in a long-standing series of remarkable public presentations in The Royal Parks since Serpentine’s foundation in 1970.

STRIP-TOWER (2023) expands on the artist’s continued exploration of painting, photography, digital reproduction and abstraction and self-scrutinising approach that have occupied his practice for over six decades.

Richter began developing his series of Strip Paintings in 2010, inspired by an earlier ‘squeegee painting’ titled Abstract Painting 724-4 (1990). This painting was then photographed. With the support of a software programme, the scanned images were digitally manipulated and divided into two strips, then four, eight, sixteen and thirty-two. The vertical strips of the painting were then stretched across a horizontal expanse before being laminated onto aluminum and covered with Perspex. STRIP-TOWER employs a similar method, in which colourful striped ceramic tiles clad two perpendicular panels. The thin vertical stripes form a dense composition where the intersecting panels create a cross section that visitors can also stand within.

Gerhard Richter’s artist book Pattern was the first manifestation of this fractal method. It is co published by HENI and Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther und Franz Knig, Kln and is entirely designed by the artist. The book shows Richter’s experiment of taking an image of his Abstract Painting [CR: 724-4] and dividing it vertically up to 4096 strips. This methodology led to 8190 thinner strips which are then mirrored and repeated. The outcome is 221 patterns which are published on 246 double page images. Pattern is one of many outstanding artist books Richter has produced over the last couple of years such as Wald (Forest) (2008) and EIS (2011), which includes a special layout of the artists stunning photographs of a trip to the Antarctic.

STRIP TOWER builds on Richter’s ongoing interest in the idea of reflections, systems, and repetitions, which could be seen in 4900 Colours exhibited at Serpentine in 2008, with the surfaces of the glossy tiles subtly mirroring the viewer and the surroundings of the Royal Parks.

4900 Colours comprised bright monochrome squares randomly arranged in a grid formation to create stunning sheets of kaleidoscopic colour. The 196 square panels of 25 coloured squares was conceived to be configured in a number of variations, from one large-scale piece to multiple, smaller paintings. Richter developed a version comprised of 49 paintings especially for Serpentine.

4900 Colours in part grew out of Richter’s design for the south transept window of Cologne Cathedral, which replaced the stained glass that had been destroyed during the Second World War. The window, unveiled in August 2007, comprised 11,500 hand-blown squares of glass in 72 colours derived from the palette of the original Medieval glazing. The seemingly arbitrary distribution of colours was generated using a specially developed computer programme. This interest in using chance to define composition was significant in the development of the artist’s concept for 4900 Colours.

STRIP TOWER also continues the artist’s Grid series in 1966 exploring connections with controlled change initiated with the six large, square paintings Cage (1) – (6), (2006). Here, Richter intends to eradicate hierarchy of subjects.

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