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i never thought of it that way

Post #142 • November 3, 2003, 3:58 AM

John Goodrich, for

Consider Gerhard Richter and his forty-year exploration of various modern and post-modern styles. Bouguereau, to me, is the more impressive stylist. (Yes, I hasten to acknowledge that Richter’s art, properly viewed, is an investigation of our responses to his feelings about society’s attitudes about the role of art in postwar Germany. But is this really so different from Bouguereau, who seems every moment to be watching us watch him converse with painting conventions?) As with the Academy in the nineteenth century-and some thinkers on art today-Richter’s work shows no awareness of the distinction between academic and great traditional art. This puts his philosophy emphatically at odds with the lifework of such twentieth-century masters as Mondrian, Matisse, and de Kooning. And if we are to applaudRichter for his soulless interpretations of any number of styles, shouldn’t we also clap Bouguereau on the back, though he sterilized just one?

To be fair, he didn’t sterilize it himself, but it’s an interesting comparison.




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