Post conceptual painting: Gerhard Richter's Extended Leave-taking in themes in contemporary art

Gaiger, Jason (2004). Post conceptual painting: Gerhard Richter's Extended Leave-taking in themes in contemporary art. In: Perry, Gillian and Wood, Paul eds. Themes in Contemporary Art. London: Yale University Press, pp. 89–135.

URL: http://www.yalebooks.co.uk/yale/display.asp?K=9780...

Abstract

This chapter is concerned with the continuation of the practice of painting in Eurpe and the USA in the last third of the twentieth century and with the attempt to sustain its critical and progressive impetus in the face of widespread acknowledgement that by the mid- to late 1960s it had lost its position at the forefront of ambitious art. It is thus, by extension, also concerned with the temporal character of art and with its ineliminable historical and social dimension. To confront the possibility that a form of art as historically significant as painting might forfeit its claim to serious critical attention is to recognise that the concept and practice of art is part of a changing constellation of elements that has no fixed or final form. Since the meaning of art is tied to the conditions of its production and reception, the form and substance of artworks can, and must, change over time: artworks are historical through and through. (The case of music offers a good example: although sonatas, string quartets and symphonies continue to be written, the period in which these forms served as the principal vehicle for musical expression in the West lasted for little more than 200 years.) By the final decades of the twentieth century, it seemed to many artists and critics that painting was "a shape of life grown old", condemned to an increasingly conservative rehearsal of strategies and gestures that had lost their original significance.

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