This is entry #55 in our 100 Philosophers, 100 Artworks, 100 Words Series.
Philosopher: Chuck Goldhaber, University of Pittsburgh
Artwork: Abstraktes Bild (Abstract Picture) / Gerhard Richter / 1999 [Catalogue Raisonné: 858-4] / Painting, Oil on Alu Dibond / 50 cm x 72 cm
Words: Not all art must be architecture. Some works need no floorplans, no precalculations. Richter’s abstracts attract me through their randomness and ease. They are made by running a huge squeegee over paint pooled on a panel in bands of contrasting color. The squeegee drags the bands, sometimes covering one with another, sometimes smearing several together, sometimes scraping some away to reveal forgotten colors of a base coating. This process is, at best, hardly controllable; Richter is, at most, a collaborator. Nature—the secret laws of the mediums—does most of the work. Richter’s main contribution is to judge when nature has succeeded