Cutting in: Gerhard Richter's photobooks

Bowman, Matthew (2021) Cutting in: Gerhard Richter's photobooks. In: Association for Art History Annual Conference, April 2021, via Zoom. (Unpublished)

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Although many facets of Gerhard Richter’s career have been extensively covered, his forays into the medium of the photobook has received considerably less critical scrutiny. The situation is perhaps explained, to a certain degree, by the ambiguous position of the photobook within his oeuvre as a whole. Often categorized under the banner of artist’s books, Richter’s own catalogue raisonné includes photobooks such as Eis, War Cut, and Birkenau alongside a variety of other book works. Meanwhile, his collaborations with the noted filmmaker and writer Alexander Kluge—December and Dispatches from Moments of Calm—are included within the literature section. All in all, the absence of the photobook as a self-sustaining category in Richter’s oeuvre is notable; and all the more so given the prevalence of photography in his practice.

The photobook has garnered more academic examination in recent years, and this allows us to perceive the ambiguity of Richter’s photobooks in a different light. Indeed, if the linearity of the book form underpins and suggests the linearity of narrative, thereby proposing a more quasi-literary approach to the photobook, this paper shall explore how Richter disrupts the photobook’s physical structure by deploying strategies more derived from montage than literature. For example, Richter’s photographs interpose themselves amid Kluge’s already discontinuous textual fragments in their collaborations and something similar appears in Eis and War Cut. To what extent, then, does Richter’s photobooks—similarly to the constellational methodologies of Michael Schmidt—problematize the physical constraints of the book medium through the ways they cut into it?

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: art history, Gerhard Richter, photography, photobooks
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
T Technology > TR Photography
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Business & Applied Social Science > Department of Arts & Humanities
Depositing User: Matthew Bowman
Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2021 08:27
Last Modified: 06 Jul 2021 08:27

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