Art Vent

Letting the Fresh Air In

Gerhard Richter

Art Vent Letting the Fresh Air In

August 12, 2007
A month or so ago I was painting in the manner of Gerhard Richter. Now I find myself laboriously drawing a Frank Stella as the basis for a painting. I’m surprised at this recent tendency of mine, because I’ve always loathed art about art, thinking it was way too art world-y self-referential in the most pretentious way (as if being art world-y self-referential could be anything but pretentious). Besides, if you’re an artist and your work is better than the artist you’re referencing you’re dragging yourself down, and if that artist’s work is better than yours (think David Salle aping Chardin) the result will be an unfavorable comparison. Also I’m always ranting about wanting to see original—as in “not borrowed”—imagery in art. Nevertheless, I’m having fun—I think of it as collaborating with Frank—although I’m sure it’s taking me much longer to do this drawing than it did for Stella to make the sculpture. And I suppose if Stella can base a part of his oeuvre on a dog toy (see Does Frank Stella have a dog? May), I can base a painting on a Stella that’s based on a dog toy. We’re getting very derivative here.
May 24, 2007
I’ve developed a new painting format within which I can try on different kinds of figurative painting. It's a challenge (and possibly stupid) because I’ve been an abstract painter all my life, but engrossing because I’m learning stuff. Or rather figuring it out as I go. Anyway, this week I’m Gerhard Richter. Or I’m trying to be Gerhard Richter. Funny how you get a picture in your mind of what something you’re making will look like, and when it’s done—even though you’re trying to be Gerhard Richter—it looks so disappointingly yours. This may be the idiosyncratic stamp that (hopefully) makes our work compelling to other people, but for the person who lives inside us it’s, “Oh shit, me again.”