collection

Konstruktion: 21 x 21 - Zahlen: 1, 3, 5, 7, (+5) = 21

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Description

This work by the German artist Hanne Darboven consists of five sheets, covered in the numbers 1, 3, 5 and 7. On pages 2 to 5 there is a grid made with 21 x 21 boxes. There is a number in each box. The numbers are shown next to each other in the quantity that they symbolize. i.e., one number 1, then 3 threes, 5 fives, 7 sevens. The rows below each other are the same three times each time. The first page is a sort of summary of the other four. It contains 16 (4 x 4 grids) of 7 x 5 boxes. Each successive box contains a different number. At the bottom of the sheet there is a diagram that has been crossed out with references to the four other sheets.

Darboven’s work is classified as Conceptual Art. The representatives of this movement considered the meaning of a work of art to play a central role, its form was usually subordinate. In many cases, words, sizes or systems of notation played an important role in their work. From 1966 the work of Hanne Darboven has consisted mainly of numbers. A number is an abstract sign which refers to a particular quantity. In 'Konstruktion 21 x 21 - Zahlen 1, 3, 5, 7, (+5) = 21' Darboven shows the numbers in the quantity which corresponds to their meaning. In this way the form and content coincide completely. In 1968 she developed a system of her own to note data. She made very comprehensive works with these numbers to describe a particular period, for example, a month, a year or a century.

In contrast with the conceptual artists who considered the idea for a work of art more important than the design, the execution of the work has central place for Darboven. She is concerned with writing and does not want to describe anything, which is why she opts for numbers. Words describe something, numbers do not. Although Darboven arranges the numbers in accordance with a particular system, she emphasized that in considering her work the visual experience is more important than figuring out the system. When she said: “I write but I do not read,” she indicated that what she writes is less important than the fact that she writes.

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Context

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