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Buchloh by the book load

From: CAP
Date: 08 Nov 2010
Time: 16:57:51 -0600


I see BB comes in for more slagging from Rob Storr in the October editon (appropriately) of Art in Amerika (pp 69-76). Yeah I'm slow getting around to these things. I do work you know.... sometimes. Anyway, Storr, obviously looking to place himself to the fore (or Forr) of Gerhard Richter interpreters, marvels at Dietmar Elger's recent publications (Elger, former studio assistant to GR) esp Gerhard Richter - A Life in Painting (University of Chicago 2009) in contrast to the lumbering Buchloh anthology - Gerhard Richter (MIT 2009). Buchloh, Jeez what a stumblebum. Storr, an art historian rather than a cultural historian, and no slouch when it comes to schmoozing the stars either, is better placed than BB to assess just how troubling abstraction is for ze Cherman. Not that Germany didn't have abstraction, back in the 60s, even in the East, naturlich - what they didn't really get was Minimalism though, by the lorry load - and as a consequence - Pattern & Decoration (P&D). But don't tell Amerikans that, they'll burst into tears at the very idea. And this is why Polke's deft knight's move, assimilating patterned fabrics as grounds or supports even by the end of the 60s, suddenly looks so acute, outside Germany, so awry inside it. Pop + Minimalism = P&D. Polke, a more volatile proposition than Richter in every way, can then depart for alchemy, print incident, ideology and all stations east. While GR can zero in on the brush gesture AS wipe off/out, the big spoil or negation, but not modularity and all the issues that follow from pattern there. In this sense, Gerhard doesn't really 'get' abstraction, as a post-Minimalist project. He can make then bigger, thicker and more colourful, but he can't really step back and appreciate the pattern or system. He's locked into a different kind of retreat. Storr wants to cut BB's shallow and doctrinaire historicising down to size, and retrieve more of a private or personal arc to the Richter scale, but for this, methinks he will need some revised formal or stylistic tools.