Starting this spring, visitors will be greeted by a flood of illuminated color as they enter the museum through the north passageway. Spencer Finch’s Color Test 210 (9 Permutations), a series of nine light boxes from 2015, gives form to the complexity of color in mesmerizing ways. The boxes’ luminous surfaces, based on computerized drawings by Finch, are each composed of 210 different colors and grouped by the chromatic families of warm, cool, and gray. These compositions are printed on Fujitrans, a translucent colored material that emits an arresting glow when illuminated from behind by LED lights.
The work is inspired by the color chart paintings of modern artists Ellsworth Kelly and Gerhard Richter, and they recall the tradition of Romanticist painting in which artists such as J. M. W. Turner and Thomas Cole rendered the qualities of light on their canvases. These and related artists are represented in the CMA’s collections, so visitors will find Color Test 210 reverberating throughout the museum. Working across a wide range of media, Finch has spent nearly three decades exploring the perception of light and color, often in relation to natural phenomena and historic sites. The artist’s work, which combines scientific precision with visual poetry, is motivated by his “impossible desire to see oneself seeing.”