McCarthy on Richter

This is a pretty solid essay by Tom McCarthy on artist Gerhard Richter, one of my faves.

There’s a tendency to discuss the art of the past hundred years in terms of binary oppositions: abstract versus figurative; conceptual versus craft-based; painting versus photography; and so on. Richter, who since the 1970s has been almost universally acknowledged as a late-modern master, reduces these binaries to rubble. Here’s a painter whose work is inseparable from photography; a man so devoted to craft that he reportedly makes his students construct their own pallet-trolleys before allowing them to raise a brush in anger, yet indulges in Joseph Beuys-style performances in which he lounges on a staircase grasping a wire (as in the 1968 piece Cable Energy), or Debordian critiques of consumer culture in which he installs himself on pedestal-mounted furniture amid a soundscape of advertising slogans (as in the 1963 piece Living with Pop: A Demonstration of Capitalist Realism); who exhibits colour-charts alongside pastoral landscapes; places mirrors around his paintings; photographs a single grey brushstroke from 128 different angles and lays these out in a large grid; or projects a yellow one, massively enlarged, on to fresh canvas and repaints it as a giant 20-metre streak … I could go on and on: his versatility and scope are stunning.



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