For the opening of the new de Young Museum, leading German artist Gerhard Richter was commissioned to create a monumental photo-mural for the main interior court. This work, entitled “Strontium,” is a grid of digitally manipulated C-prints, laminated between aluminum and plexiglass. It cost a fortune.
According to David Strubbe in the Berkeley Science Review (Spring 2006), the image is the crystal lattice of the material strontium titanate as seen by high-resolution transmission electron microscopy. Strubbe says that the blurring of the image was contributed by Richter.
The top photo, from the Contemporary Art Institute website, shows the whole work. Below are images showing the scale of the work and a detail of the pattern.
Repeated viewings have not altered my original impression, that the work misfires. Despite the intense optical buzz, the overall effect lies somewhere between tedium and low-level irritation (like static). I keep thinking that the panels would really sizzle if they were arranged on the four walls of a small gallery. Also, I think that the main court, with its surprisingly bland geometry, could use a blast of color.