The Series

In my view, Richter’s important contributions to abstraction have been the color charts and something that I call “the edition of unique works.” The latter might be the most important, and I have talked about it on this blog. But I’ve just had the most surprising insight. A series with a more or less conceptual basis, such as Stella’s Black Paintings, is also an edition of unique works. Since the formal move is clear and self-evident, and unchanging for all examples, why make more than one? Clearly there are good practical reasons, but personally I’m drawn to the Duchampian model, that each work stands alone on it’s own concept. Repetition is unnecessary. Stella’s work from the Black Paintings up to but not including the Irregular Polygons could be called paradigmatic for the series in abstraction post WW II. When he started to make each work in the series significantly different from the rest, in other words when pictorial incident began to dominate, in the Irregular Polygons, it was a move back toward the conventional model of the series, as found in Picasso for example, and that has been Stella’s direction since. In its strongest and strictest formulation, the series is a multiple. These thoughts come in the context of some beginning steps in printmaking, but my paintings are not a series. The quality of each example lies in the departure it makes from the work that preceded it. My work is neither a style nor a series—it’s an idiom. I guess that makes me an idiot. When I took a critical distance on the series, in the Geomorphic Fantasy, I didn’t move out so much as swivel around and look from the side.

Gerhard Richter, Edition for Parkett 1993

Gerhard Richter, Edition of 115 originals for Parkett 1993

Gerhard Richter, Edition for Parkett 1993

Gerhard Richter, Edition of 115 originals for Parkett 1993

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