Painting’s Wrongful Death: The Revivalist Practices of Glenn Brown and Gerhard Richter



Victoria Reichelt. 2005. Painting’s Wrongful Death: The Revivalist Practices of Glenn Brown and Gerhard Richter.Thesis (Professional Doctorate), Griffith University, Brisbane.


This thesis considers how the Twentieth Century ‘death of painting’ debate brought about a series of challenges and changes to painting that have ironically ensured its survival. This is illustrated in the practice of artists Gerhard Richter and Glenn Brown, whose investigations into painting’s failures and limitations have paradoxically resulted in their works demonstrating the continued relevance and success of the medium. Specifically, this discussion analyses Richter’s Annunciation After Titian (1973) series and Brown’s series of works that appropriate Frank Auerbach paintings (1998 - 2000). These works illustrate the ways in which painting has developed in the last half of the Twentieth Century as a result of the 'death of painting’ debate. The primary developments identified are that painting now draws from and references many other media; painting now embraces photography (instead of seeing it as a threat); the use of appropriation in painting is now seen as expansive rather than as representing depletion; there has been a return to romanticism and pleasure in painting; and women are now included in the broader discussion of painting. In considering the 'death of painting’ debate, as well as the changes painting has experienced as a result of it, the primary point of departure is Yve-Alain Bois’ pivotal essay 'Painting: The Task of Mourning’ (1986) and his analysis of Hubert Damisch’s 'theory of games’. The evolution of the 'death of painting’ debate is also outlined via the writings of Douglas Crimp, Arthur C. Danto, Douglas Fogle, Michael Fried, Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. This thesis also considers how the debate has impacted contemporary painters’ practices, as well as how my own practice owes a debt not only to the response of artists like Brown and Richter, but also to the debate itself.

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