Alex Peek blog

List of posts    Blog archive    About


Friday, July 17, 2020

Gerhard Richter and arbitrary choice


Photo source: Wikimedia Commons, Jindrich Nosek (NoJin)

Photo license: CC BY-SA 4.0


Gerhard Richter (1932 - now) is a German artist best known for his contributions to abstract art and photography. Wikipedia says,


"Richter has produced abstract as well as photorealistic paintings, and also photographs and glass pieces... Nearly all of Richter's work demonstrates both illusionistic space that seems natural and the physical activity and material of painting - as mutual interferences. For Richter, reality is the combination of new attempts to understand - to represent; in his case, to paint - the world surrounding us." (Wikipedia: Gerhard Richter, 7.22.21 UTC 03:36)


The rest of this post is some quotes from Richter.




"I pursue no objectives, no systems, no tendency; I have no program, no style, no direction. I have no time for specialized concerns, working themes, or variations that lead to mastery. I steer clear of definitions. I don't know what I want. I am inconsistent, non-committal, passive; I like the indefinite, the boundless; I like continual uncertainty." (Doubt and belief in painting, 2003)


"As soon as artistic activity turns into an 'ism', it ceases to be artistic activity. To be alive is to engage in a daily struggle for form and survival." (The Daily Practice of Painting, Writings 1962-1993)


Arbitrary choice


"This method of arbitrary choice, chance, inspiration and destruction may produce a specific type of picture, but it never produces a predetermined picture. Each picture has to evolve out of a painterly or visual logic: it has to emerge as if inevitably. And by not planning the outcome, I hope to achieve the same coherence and objectivity that a random slice of nature (or a ready-made) always possesses." (Interview with Sabine Schutz, 1990)


"If, while I'm painting, I distort or destroy a motif, it is not a planned to conscious act, but rate it has a different justification: I see the motif, the way I painted it, is somehow ugly or unbearable. Then I try to follow my feelings and make it attractive." (Interview with Astrid Kaspar, 2000)


"I believe that art has a kind of rightness, as in music, when we hear whether or not a note is false. And that's why classical paintings, which are right in their own terms, are so necessary for me. In addition to that there's nature, which also has this rightness." (Doubt and belief in painting, 2003)


"When I paint an abstract picture (the problem is very much the same in other cases), I neither know in advance what it is meant to look like nor, during the painting process, what I am aiming at and what to do about getting there. Painting is consequently an almost blind, desperate effort..." (Notes, 1985)




"I blur things to make everything equally important and equally unimportant. I blur things so that they do not look artistic or craftsmanlike but technological, smooth and perfect. I blur things to make all the parts a closer fit. Perhaps I also blur out the excess of unimportant information." (Notes, 1964)


"Pictures are the idea in visual or pictorial form; and the idea has to be legible, both in the individual picture and in the collective context - which presupposes, of course, that words are used to convey information about the idea and the context." (Letter to Jean-Christophe Ammann, 1973)




"Since there is not such thing as absolute rightness and truth, we always pursue the artificial, leading, human truth. We judge and make a truth that excludes other truths. Art plays a formative part in this manufacture of truth." (Notes, 1962)