Painting: Light on Light

In an era of striving for ultimate solutions, painters are continually testing the outermost bounds of perception. Artists from Russian Suprematist Kasimir Malevitch to Jasper Johns have turned out white-on-white paintings; Ad Reinhardt experimented with black on black. Latest and farthest-out researcher is Cali fornia's Robert Irwin, 39, who has developed pictures composed of light on light. Each painting consists of a white aluminum disk, sprayed at the edges with a subtle blush of blue, pink or grey. Mounted 15 or 20 inches from the wall, the disks are lit by four small spotlights, which cast phantasmal shadows on...

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