Roman Opalka was born on August 27, 1931, to Polish émigrés in Hocquincourt, northern France. He and his family returned to Poland in 1935, only to be deported to Germany after the Nazi invasion. After being liberated by the United States Army in 1945, they moved back to Poland, where the artist studied lithography at a graphics school before enrolling in the School of Art and Design in Lodz. Opalka later earned a degree from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw and began experimenting with abstract and monochrome paintings, which he called Chronomes. In 1965 he began his 1965/1 – ∞ project, to which he would devote the majority of his life’s work.
Opalka began exhibiting in Poland in the mid-1960s, and by the early 1970s was represented in solo and group exhibitions throughout Europe and in Asia and Latin America. His first trip to the United States came in 1972, and his first American exhibition opened in 1974 at the John Weber Gallery. In the forty years since then, Opalka’s work has been showcased in scores of gallery and museum shows worldwide. His retrospective exhibitions and writings in several languages, as well as his participation in events such as Documenta 6 (1977), the XIX Biennial of Sao Paolo (1987), and the Venice Biennale (1995, 2003), have brought him global recognition.
In 1977, Opalka moved to France, settling at Teillé, near Le Mans. He obtained French citizenship in 1985, and in 2009 he was awarded Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He died in Chieti, Italy, in August 2011.
Dominique Lévy has represented the Estate of Roman Opalka since 2012. His previous solo exhibition with the gallery took place in New York in September – October 2014. Work by the artist is held in major museum collections, including the Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; Kunsthalle Hamburg, Hamburg; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Nationalgalerie, Berlin; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.
Image: Installation view of Roman Opalka: Painting ∞ at Dominique Lévy in New York, 2014
Chronome II 1963 Tempera on canvas 24 x 24 inches (61 x 61 cm)
OPALKA 1965 / 1 - ∞ Détail 2806353 - 2828874
Acrylic on canvas
77 3/16 x 53 1/8 inches (196 x 135 cm)
Signed and titled (on the reverse; title constitutes the artist's signature)
OPALKA 1965/1 - ∞, Detail - photographie 2787231
9 7/16 x 12 inches (24 x 30.5 cm)