Kierkegaard died this week in 1855 - November 11th.
Here is a photo of his gravesite in Copenhagen, photo credit thank yous to Johannes Birke.
And, as accompaniment, here is an excerpt from a 1986 interview between Gerhart Richter and Benjamin H.D. Buchloch.
BB: That’s what your paintings have at their best; they seem not to try too hard, but to br produced with verve, indifference, and virtuosity. But - to revert to the issue of content for a moment - how can you say that the palette knifed surface on this painting here doesn’t stand for materiality as such, when the painting itself has been made with such obvious emphasis on the process of its making? If you weren’t interested in these qualities, you surely wouldn’t use the palette knife in this way, depriving the colors, composition, and structure of the painting of any possibility of generating a meaning beyond the bare materiality of the picture. It seems to me that you introduce process-related paintings as just one of painting’s many possibilities, while not insisting, as Ryman did, that this is its only aspect. It’s one aspect among others.
GR: Then why would I go to such lengths to make it so varied?
Because you’re setting out to call out all the aspects there are, like a catalog; because you’re really trying to pursue both a rhetoric of painting and the simultaneous analysis of that rhetoric.
If this were all just a display of matter - the way the yellow, tatter-edged area rises up against the blue-green background, how could it tell a story or set up moods?
A mood? You mean it really sets up an emotional experience?
Yes, and aesthetic pleasure, too.
That’s something different. Aesthetic pleasure I can see, but absolutely not a mood.
So what is a mood?
A mood has an explicitly emotional, spiritual, psychological quality.
That’s exactly what is there.
Fortunately only in the weakest parts.
Surely you don’t think that a stupid demonstration of brushwork, or of the rhetoric of painting and its elements, could ever achieve anything, say anything, express any longing.
Longing for what?
For lost qualities, for a better world - for the opposite of misery and hopelessness,
The longing to be able to present culture as a contemplative spectacle without losing credibility?
I might also call it redemption. Or hope - the hope that I can after all effect something through painting.
Again, this is all so generalized: “efffect” in what sense? Epistemological, emotional, psychological, political?
All at once. I don’t know.
So if you maintain that art can have this function - something that other artists would deny absolutely - then it’s all the more of a paradox that you simultaneously insist of being able to do it only with the means of painting. Or, to put the question another way: Do you believe that this dichotomy is concretely visible in your paintings?
Do you believe that these are ultimately conservative paintings, conservative in the sense that Broodthaers’ art seemed conservative?
In terms of the means - oil on canvas - even more conservative. I knew Broodthaers, and I had a lot of respect and sympathy for him, but I never really understood his pictures. Conservative - I certainly don’t intend to be, and I also know that painting per se does not have to be conservative. So I carry on in the same way, just better if possible.
The question is, how far can this schizophrenia be stretched, how far can it really be kept alive, or what does it become an empty pose: to assert this contradiction over and over again, and to act within the contradiction again and again, but without trying to get over the contradiction?
I don’t know what contradiction you’re talking about.
It’s the contradiction of knowing full well that the means you are using won’t achieve what you aim for, and at the same time not being prepared to change those means.
That’s not a contradiction, it’s a perfectly normal state of affairs. The normal mess, if you like. And that couldn’t be changed by choosing different means and methods.
Because all means are of equal value?
No, but all are similarly inadequate. The question is, what are my means, and what can I achieve with them?
But under certain historical conditions painting had different functions, and had a possibility of having an effect on its contemporary context.
If I’m thinking of political painting in our time, I’d rather have Barnett Newman. He painted some magnificent paintings.
So it is said. But magnificent in what way?
I can’t describe it now, what gets to me in them - I believe they’re among the most important paintings of all.
Perhaps that’s a mythology that needs reexamination. Precisely because its so difficult to describe; and because, in the encounter with paintings, acts of faith are not enough.
Acts of faith are unavoidable. They’re part of us.
Do your paintings invite acts of faith, or analyses? Which matters more to you?
Either would be fine with me. In your case they invite you to analyze; others find them an invitation to perform acts of faith.