French, born 1926
No. 82012, Tirets dont l’espacement
et la longueur augmentent à chaque
rangée de 5 mm, 1982
Acrylic on wood
31½ x 31½ inches
The self-taught Morellet emerged in the 1950s creating simple abstract geometric compositions. In 1960 he cofounded a collaborative group that experimented with installation art. Through the efforts of this group, Morellet began to work with neon and other nontraditional materials. Soon after, inspired by the works of Theo van Doesburg and the spare designs of Swiss sculptor Max Bill, he created rules for his work that he followed in a systematic way and that reduced his art to the most simplified forms.
The rules for the present piece (whose title translates as “Dashes whose spacing and length increase by 5mm in each row”) were first conceived in 1974. On the top horizontal row, black dashes five millimeters in length are spaced five millimeters apart. In each succeeding row (seventeen in total), the length of the dashes and the space between each marking is increased as per the title. Here Morellet’s system produces an unusual graphic effect and allowed him to recreate the original idea with varying effects.