Robert Mangold
Four Color Frame Painting #7 (yellow-green, red, red-orange, light blue), 1984

Our idea of a painting is usually based on tradition, and as a rule a traditional painting is constructed so that the most important part is at its center. This is where the essential events occur, the representation is highlighted and the observer’s eye is directed.

Nothing of the above can be found in a Mangold work like this one. One can’t even speak of a picture, since nothing is represented. And above all: the center is open and shows nothing other than a white wall. But we still have a painting of great intensity and radiance in front of us. It has so much energy that its surface reaches out to us in a physical way. The entire wall reacts dynamically and leaves no doubt that it is fully integrated into the effect. The four color fields of the “Four Color Frame”, mounted along their edges, create a tension in connection with the space that transmits itself onto the observer. This is where the event takes place – outside of the painting, but still caused by its properties and quality.

What did Mangold do? He painted each of four rectangles in different widths with a unique color and used rather unusual combinations in hues. The parts are screwed together in the rear to form a square “frame”. They are joined together in the front with an oval graphite line that crosses through all surfaces and is applied in layers the same way color is. Despite its raw character, the whole is of utmost precision; the stroke of the line, drawn by hand, deserves close observation. In fact, this work’s concept as well as realization is a challenge to perception – the expression and trigger for a process that charges intelligence with emotion.

See more Mangold installations in the Raussmüller Hallen, Basel and the Hallen für Neue Kunst, Schaffhausen in a series of photographs on our online platform Raussmüller Insights. We have also published an insightful text by Christel Sauer on this work in our publication Three Works by Robert Mangold (2011).