Roman Opalka, details from OPALKA 1965/ 1-∞, 1965-2011
In 1965, in his studio in Warsaw, Opalka began painting a process of counting—from one to infinity. Starting in the top left-hand corner of the canvas and finishing in the bottom right-hand corner, the tiny numbers are painted in horizontal rows. Each new canvas, which the artist calls a ‘detail’, takes up counting where the last left off. Each ‘detail’ is the same size (196 x 135 cm), the dimension of his studio door in Warsaw. All details have the same title, 1965/1-∞; the idea does not date although the artist has pledged his life to its execution: ‘All my work is a single thing, the description from number one to infinity. A single thing, a single life.’ (via)
Opalka died on August 6, 2011. The final number he painted was 5,607,249.
"Time as we live it and as we create it embodies our progressive disappearance,” Opalka wrote in an essay in 1987. “We are at the same time alive and in the face of death — that is the mystery of all living beings.”