A visit to a Parisian market in 1965 marked a defining moment in Daniel Buren’s career. There, he came upon the materials that would henceforth define his practice: rolls of preprinted awning fabric with alternating white and colored stripes in green, red, yellow, blue, orange, brown, or black. At a standardized 8.7 centimeters, the equal distance between stripes meant that he was able to dispense with the traditional figure/ground distinctions in painting and make a flat and neutral work. As he asked in a 1969 manifesto, “… can one create something that is real, nonillusionistic, and therefore not an art object?”
For this work, Buren attached the fabric to a stretcher and painted the sides white. He reasoned that without his visible mark-making, viewers would consider this a “readymade,” implying an unwanted connection to Dadaist artist Marcel Duchamp’s practice of turning everyday objects into art by placing them in the context of a gallery or museum.