TABLE OF CONTENTS

THE CHANCE ORNAMENT: APHORISMS ON GERHARD RICHTER’S ABSTRACTIONS

Variation IV: 8/16 from Gerhard Richter’s artist’s book Patterns (Heni Publishing and Walther König, 2011).

The widely acclaimed Tate Modern traveling retrospective “Gerhard Richter: Panorama” arrives at the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin on February 12, three days after the venerable German painter celebrates his eightieth birthday. To mark the occasion, art historian Benjamin H. D. Buchloh reflects on abstraction, decoration, and the aleatory in relation to Richter’s latest bodies of work.

1.

Even the very first of the supposedly first abstract paintings Gerhard Richter made in 1966, Ten Colors, was not a truly abstract painting, since it still copied a color chart, a swatch similar to those displayed by hardware stores and color merchants for commercial and industrial use. As such, it associated itself with a spectrum of color contestations initiated by Marcel Duchamp in 1918 with Tu m’, a work in which color’s supposed capacities to induce psychic and somatic, musical and spiritual

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