Since the 1970s the work of Gerhard Merz has been defined by the reduced use of scale, colour, light, plane and space, which he brings into a consummate three-dimensional configuration in relation to architecture. He has done so by forging connections to the perceptions gained by European abstraction, linking these with the legacy of America’s postwar modernism, in order to exploit these traditions and continue to develop them. The exhibition in Toulouse, Le chef d’œuvre inconnu, summarises his aesthetic program of allowing places of emptiness to evolve into places of reflection. The mental, allusive horizon of painting and architecture is augmented by fragments of texts. Merz confronts the literary topos of Honoré de Balzac’s The Unknown Masterpiece with a text by Gertrude Stein: What Are Masterpieces? The artist striving to create a masterpiece is driven to his death by the inaccessibility of his ideal, leaving the question of the existence of a masterpiece unanswered and, at the same time, inspiring the viewer to reflect on art’s sheer perfection. English and German text.