13 December 2011

'The odd misery through the murk.'

T. J. Clark, writing in the LRB, reviewing the current Tate Modern retrospective of the work of Gerhard Richter:

"The idea of working from the photograph seems in Richter, again from the beginning, to have been bound up with the idea of almost painting things out. A kind of botched concealment comes from the photograph as if it were its inner perfume. The photographic seems much of the time to be another word for the lifeless. ...The photo-language is archaic: that is what the dim monochrome suggests to me most powerfully. It speaks to a false fixation on the past – maybe that of a refugee from East Germany, maybe that of post-Hitler Germany in general. ...Richter’s is a world where even fetishism does not work: the shine on the nose of appearance, which one or two canvases bring on emblematically – ineffectively – can do nothing against philosophy, or art after Auschwitz, painting its grey on grey. That cliché again...

Perhaps I have pulled out the stops of despair and disorientation in the last paragraph, but not by much. Richter’s 1960s is a horrible decade. His past in the DDR seems to cling to him, and always he turns from the imagery of the future on offer in the world he has chosen – the new freedom and equality of the children in the porn shots – with a shudder. The Red Army Faction is near. There are some cityscapes painted in 1968 and 1969, in particular Stadtbild SL (from which Luc Tuymans learned brilliantly), where all the achieved non-life of modernity is painted with a truly chilling lack of affect, as if seen by a sociopath looking through the sights of a gun."

* * *

"Richter is the painter at the furthest remove, I reckon, from Adorno’s sense that the whole and only point of art is always to find – to instantiate – concrete particularity in a world of false vividness. Vividness for Richter, if it comes, will have to have falsity written deep within it. I guess this is the strong side (the genuinely disabused-of-illusion side) of his Duchampianism.

[...] Perhaps Richter is a petit bourgeois nihilist: the question the righteous leftist commentators might have asked themselves, however, is what the nerveless attitude allows him to ‘say’ about neo-Leninism; whether nihilism (whatever its class ascription) is now the only vantage point from which the ghost dance of revolution can be chronicled."

Article here.

No comments:

  © Blogger template 'Solitude' by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP