Roman Opalka was a Polish conceptual artist who spent almost his entire career painting a progression of numbers design to symbolize the passing of time. He began with the figure “1” in 1965, and spent every day after that painting about 400 consecutive numbers. At the time of his death, in August, 2011, Opalka’s decades-long count had reached 5,607,249.
Called “1965/1-∞”, Roman Opalka’s epic artistic project is “a philosophical and spiritual image of the progression of time and of life and death”, according to the artist. He got the idea for it one day in 1965, while sitting at the Café Bristol in Warsaw, waiting for his wife to arrive. Somehow the thought of painting a progression of numbers for the rest of his life appealed to Roman, and upon entering his studio the very next day, he started mapping out what would eventually become the largest numerical painting in history.