GERHARD RICHTER, Eis, 2016
19,5 x 11,5 cm
artist’s book, offset, 144 pp., ca 320 grams
46 by hand tipped-in black and white images
limited edition 350
published by Salon Verlag, Cologne, Germany
order at Salon Verlag
This book is a facsimile of Gerhard Richter’s original design for ‘Eis’, an artist’s book first published by Galeria Pieroni in 1981. The brown yellowish glue stains shining through the pages of that dummy are reproduced here, as an extra factual layer. The 46 pictures – glued in the middle of the book – are reproductions of photos Richter took in Greenland.
The most interesting contribution Gerhard Richter has managed to deliver in the comtemporary visual arts is the uninterpreted image, i.e. an image without interpretation, morality or emotion. A picture made with the objectifying camera leads to a matter of pictorial fact. Since we are used to read images within a fraction of a second Richter manipulates his images by blurring them, and so creating a cooler distance from the viewer looking at an image. Due to this added misty curtain it is more difficult to detect what is going on. Also it blocks a first fast reading. What Emmanuel Kant analysed for the theory of knowledge is what Gerhard Richter analysed for the pictorial phenomenology, i.e. knowledge a priori (knowledge one is born with) or a posteriori (knowledge achieved by experience) is comparable to Richter’s observation that a photo is empty (no thoughts, no ideology, no theme, no order) or loaded (with ethics, aesthetics, etc.).
Since Gerhard Richter is convinced that the objectivity of the (snapshot) photo has to be helped by providing it with manipulations of distance, he states that painting a photo is the best way to bring its emptiness of no position to perfection.
Reading ‘Eis’ against the background of the above one may say that Richter’s idea to make this artist’s book with no beginning and no ending is expressing his will to neutralise a fixed direction of reading (in fact, there are no texts to read). Black and white images are glued in and some are shown upside down towards each other, depending from where you start reading the book. After some confusion one may accept its awkwardness of how to read on and a kind of reader’s ‘floating’ is created. This awareness of being in a cloud is the detached situation Richter is looking for. In German one would say: “Richter’s richtige Richtung” leading to a void in which there is no urge anymore to judge. The reader finds himself in a pictoriality of no beginning and no ending.
© KvG augustus 2016
The tipped-in images in the middle seen from the book edge:
inv. GRich 309