Post-structuralism in the artwork of Gerhard Richter

Darryn Ansted

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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[Truncated abstract] This dissertation interprets Gerhard Richter's oeuvre as a deconstruction of modernism's discourse of otherness, specifically in terms of its notion of the artist-as-outsider and the dialectical critique inherent in avant-gardism. In the formative years of Richter‘s art practice the Cold War divided the world into two distinct zones: the so-called communist East and capitalist West. Richter trained in the East and then, at age 29, fled to the West where he eventually became an acclaimed artist. I argue that Richter's education and experience in East Germany gave him the tools to deconstruct the avant-garde art that he encountered after his migration to West Germany.
Richter was educated in the premier East German (GDR) art academy, in Dresden, where he was exposed to Socialist Realism, which was transparently constructed according to a Hegelian dialectical logic. This transparency enabled Richter to deconstruct the avant-gardism of Socialist Realism during his short career as an artist in the East. He then fled to Düsseldorf in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG or West Germany) in 1961, where multiple avant-gardes were constructing themselves in a mode of dialectical negation. I argue that Richter used a similar methodology when in the West to that which he had used in the East, deconstructing the dialectical logic of his milieu as well as its apparent pluralism, the seemingly infinite relativity that existed between its multiple forms of avant-gardism.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2010


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