Anne Marie Freybourg, Knut Ebeling and Stian Grogaard, Richard Dunn – Manifold – Paintings + Photography, Jovis, 2005, pp. 24-27 for other works in the series
In Wittgenstein’s Colours, Richard Dunn initiates a visual conversation between German modernist philosophy and the Central Australian landscape.
The German analytical philosopher and logician Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote in his Philosophical Remarks (1926): "It is obvious there is no relation of 'existence' between colour and the place in which it exists…There is no intermediary element between colour and space…Colour and space saturate each other. And the way they permeate each other constitutes the visual field."
Using the colours Wittgenstein himself selected in the design of his sister’s home in Vienna, Dunn was struck by the sympathetic resonance the colours struck with the Australian landscape.
In 2002, Richard Dunn wrote of Wittgenstein’s Colours: “This suite of paintings was generated by the specific colours used by Wittgenstein as the architect of his sister’s house in Vienna and in his discussion of colour in his writings. In this house, Wittgenstein challenged modernist idealism, accommodating subtleties of colour, cultural diversity including eastern and western ideas and objects. Misunderstood over time, this house (and its author) has been a longstanding source of speculative fascination for me.
The colours defy easy description; they are complex and difficult to name, transcending the bounds of simple colour naming. Complex colour defeats language. Instead it requires a visual response, and contemplation. The locality of this meditation on colour coincidentally reflects the colours of a closer Australian landscape, a deflection that can refer to an Australian locality in a particular way.” (https://www.richarddunn.net/wp/2000-wittgensteins-colours-set/)
Ten works from Dunn's Wittgenstein’s Colours suite are in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.