RIHA Journal’s 200th article is online

(Dis)Figuration of Memory In, Around, and Beyond Gerhard Richter's Atlas: Between Photography, Abstraction, and the Mnemonic Construction, by Miguel Mesquita Duarte
RIHA Journal’s 200th article is online

Gerhard Richter, Birkenau (937-4), 2014. © Gerhard Richter 2018 (21092018)

 

(Dis)Figuration of Memory In, Around, and Beyond Gerhard Richter's Atlas: Between Photography, Abstraction, and the Mnemonic Construction
By Miguel Mesquita Duarte

 

Gerhard Richter’s Atlas is a collection of photographs and sketches that the artist started to assemble in 1961. This article aims to demonstrate that Holocaust imagery plays a unique and irreplaceable function in the Atlas, creating paths throughout the project and pointing towards some of Richter’s most important ideas and contexts within which his pictorial work comes into being.

The article places particular emphasis on the photographs assembled in panels 807 and 808 of Atlas, which are the basis for Richter’s series of abstract paintings entitled Birkenau Paintings, from 2014. The article argues the importance of this series, making a case for a different interpretation of Atlas’s dynamics, and pointing out alternative ways of addressing the tensions between photography and painting  ̶ and, in particular, figuration and abstraction ̶ that pervade Richter’s practice. The themes concerning Richter’s position on photography and the role played by the medium in the pictorial exploration of the traumatic past are thoroughly discussed in the article, generating new insights into the concept of the historical image in the work of the German artist.

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RIHA Journal is the peer-reviewed and Open Access Journal of the International Association of Research Institutes in the History of Art (http://www.riha-institutes.org/); its managing editor is based at the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte in Munich.

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