I've never really warmed up to Richter, though I agree that many of the abstractions are "beautiful". They have a hollowness; a lack of engagement and belief, which typifies the transition between Modern and Postmodern (or some such thing). Like Johns & Rauschenberg, they're about letting the air out of Abstract Expressionism, but in a much cooler, detached manner, without the humor of the Americans. With Ab Ex, a bad painting might be an interesting sort of failure, with Richter, it's more like, "here's a good one, here's a less good one, let's move along". The photo-based works strike me similarly, but the imagery allows for more associative readings. Taken together, his various works make up a larger project, which serves to further deflate the value of any given piece seen in isolation. Again, this "whole greater than the sum of its parts" strategy is characteristically PoMo.
- alex 4-03-2002 3:24 pm

In case Mike followed the thread over here: Maybe both of you guys missed the review I wrote after the Richter show opened. (Or maybe not.) Alex, your position isn't far off Kuspit's, minus his tendentious moralizing. I talked about the Atlas; for me that's what's most interesting about Richter. I also like the abstractions, and my beef with the MOMA show is that there aren't more of them. I think the show emphasized the portraits to play to the crowd.
- tom moody 4-03-2002 6:22 pm [add a comment]

  • I did read your review, and a few others, which all blended in my head. I meant to go back to your archive, but the fact that I didn't may say something about the likelihood of really managing our info backlog in any coherent fashion (do try, though). I have often disagreed with Kuspit and his morals; I mean, this is a guy who once compared Robert Ryman to Leon Golub for cryin' out loud. And you can bet Ryman came out as moraly deficient, whereas to me he retains exactly the kind of engagement that Richter has dispensed with. I guess that'll happen when you compare a non-objective painter with a left-wing polemical illustrator. But that was twenty years ago; by now Kuspit at least represents criticism with a broader foundation than the Sunday Times, even if he sometimes reads like a more intelligent version of Hilton Kramer. There's reactionary, and then there's reactionary.
    - alex 4-03-2002 9:49 pm [add a comment]

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