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Benjamin Buchloh - October 1977

Benjamin Buchloh - October 1977

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Published by Daniel Spaulding
Article on Gerhard Richter's "October 1977"
Article on Gerhard Richter's "October 1977"

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Published by: Daniel Spaulding on May 10, 2011
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07/08/2013

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A Note on Gerhard Richter's "October 18, 1977"
Benjamin H. D. Buchloh
October
, Vol. 48. (Spring, 1989), pp. 88-109.
October
is currently published by The MIT Press.Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available athttp://www.jstor.org/about/terms.html. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtainedprior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content inthe JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained athttp://www.jstor.org/journals/mitpress.html.Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printedpage of such transmission.The JSTOR Archive is a trusted digital repository providing for long-term preservation and access to leading academic journals and scholarly literature from around the world. The Archive is supported by libraries, scholarly societies, publishers,and foundations. It is an initiative of JSTOR, a not-for-profit organization with a mission to help the scholarly community takeadvantage of advances in technology. For more information regarding JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.http://www.jstor.orgSun Feb 17 00:38:00 2008
 
A Note on Gerhard Richter's
October
18, 1977
BENJAMIN
H.
D.
BUCHLOH
Even amnesia sufers from the compulsionof being unable to forget; that is what wecall repression.
-
Jiirgen Habermas,"Keine Normalisierungder Vergangenheit"The group of paintings entitled
October
18, 1977
that Gerhard Richtercompleted in the late fall of
1988
immediately confronts its viewers with thequestion of the very possibility of representing history, both in contemporarypainting and in modernism in general. Despite their apparent continuity withRichter's early photopaintings,' these paintings in fact constitute the first attemptin Richter's oeuvre to address historically specific public experience. The twoearlier series of paintings that one could most easily identify as the precedent forthe new series would be the
Eight Student Nurses
(1966)
and the
48
Portraits
(1971
-72).
As depictions of recent murder ~ictims,~n the one hand, and aspresentations of figures of public history, on the other, however, a comparisonwith these two groups instantly clarifies their distance and their difference fromthe paintings
October
18, 1977.
Richter's recent decision to represent currentpublic history, that is, simultaneously to violate the prohibition against represent-ing historical subjects in modern painting and to break the taboo against remem-bering this particular episode of recent German history-the activities of theBaader-Meinhof Group and the murder of its members in Stammheim Prison-distinguish these paintings from all earlier works by Richter.That this group of paintings was first exhibited in a building by Mies van
1.
Photopainting
is the term Richter uses for that type of painting-appearing in his oeuvre since1962-based on the projection of found photographs.2.
Eaght Student Nurses
is a group of portraits based on newspaper images of the victims of theChicago mass murderer Richard Speck.

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