Selected works by Richard Wilson

Richard Wilson


Used sump oil, steel

Dimensions variable

Richard Wilson’s 20:50 is truly a contemporary masterpiece. The work was the only permanent installation at the Saatchi Gallery and had been continuously shown in each of the gallery’s venues between 1991 to 2015.

Viewed from the entrance platform 20:50 appeared as a holographic field: simultaneously a polished floor, infinite clear pool, an expansive and indefinable virtual space that clinically absorbs and mirrors the gallery architecture. The room was in fact entirely flooded in oil.

Through this altered perspective 20:50’s phantasmical aura is enhanced, amplifying the disorientating and mesmerising experience of the space, and further confounding physical logic.

20:50 takes its name from the type of recycled engine oil used. It is thick, pitch black, and absolutely indelible: please take extreme care with your clothing and belongings, and no matter how tempting, please do not touch. 20:50 often has to be demonstrated to be believed: the liquid can be seen by blowing very gently on the surface.

Other Resources
Additional information on Richard Wilson
The birth of a notion By Richard Wilson
Nothing in the Saatchi collection has aroused such wonder and delight as the work 20:50. This is its story, by the man who made it
Oil magnate By Alison Roberts
Richard Wilson has described his installation 20:50 as both his 'party' and his 'megastar' piece.
Interview with Richard Wilson
Monday 23rd March 1998
This interview coincided with the exhibition of a piece entitled Water Table at Matt's Gallery. Wilson talked at length about the processes which went into making that piece.
Wilson transforms architectural spaces, using industrial materials such as oil and metal, with natural phenomena such as water and light. His works destabalise our normal perceptions of architectural space and structure, heightening our awareness of mundane surroundings.