The Polish Artist Roman Opalka Spent Half Of His Life Painting From 1 To Infinity

Roman Opalka was a Polish conceptual artist who spent almost his entire career painting a progression of numbers design to symbolize the passing of time. He began with the figure “1” in 1965, and spent every day after that painting about 400 consecutive numbers. At the time of his death, in August, 2011, Opalka’s decades-long count had reached 5,607,249. More: Wikipedia h/t: odditycentral

For his first canvas, or “detail” as he called them, Roman decided on a 195 x 135 black background, with the height corresponding to his own physical height, and the width derived from the girth of the door to his Warsaw studio.

He started by picking up a fine brush and painting a small “1” in the upper-left corner of a black canvas, and continued painting neat rows of tiny consecutive numbers from one side of the canvas to the other. By the time he reached the lower-right corner, he had already reached 35,327. But that was just the beginning of a journey to infinity.


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