new-york

Felix Gmelin

Maccarone | 630 Greenwich Street

Whether artistic or political, revolution aims at a tabula rasa. Think of Malevich’s quest for painting’s ground zero or the First French Republic’s decree of “year 1.” Paradoxically, though, the leap into post-revolutionary time tends to proceed from a backward glance, from Jacques-Louis David’s nod to ancient Rome in The Oath of the Horatii, 1784, to May 1968’s evocation of October 1917. But as our faith in historical progress—which sustained the idea of a revolutionary break along with its utopian aspirations—appears increasingly on the wane, so, it seems, is our ability to use elements of the past to forge a future that feels genuinely new.

Felix Gmelin’s sense of this impasse is particularly acute—and not surprisingly, considering that his father was a charismatic left-wing professor who rallied his students to political uprising during the glory days of 1968. In Farbtest, Die Rote

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