This Great Allegory
On World-Decay and World-Opening in the Work of Art
An engagement with the relation between the world in which an artwork is created—a world that perishes or decays over time—and the new world that the artwork opens up.
Gerhard Richter explores the relation between two worlds: the world in which an artwork is created, that is, a world that over time perishes or decays beyond interpretive understanding, and the new world that the artwork opens up. The multiple relations between these worlds are examined in a number of central thinkers and in various modes of aesthetic production, including poetry, painting, music, film, literature, and photography. It is precisely in and through the work of art, Richter shows, that central elements of the thinking of world as world are negotiated in the most essential and moving ways.
Exploring the relationship between these worlds through art and European philosophy, Richter offers bold new interpretations of Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Blanchot, Georges Bataille, Emmanuel Levinas, Theodor W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin, and Jacques Derrida. The book also provides stimulating new insights into the works of heterogeneous artists such as Paul Celan, Friedrich Hölderlin, Werner Herzog, Arnold Schönberg, Franz Kafka, Herman Melville, Andrew Moore, Botho Strauß, Didier Eribon, and even prehistoric cave painters. In each case, Richter's readings are guided by a consideration of the conceptual constraints and singular interpretive demands imposed by the specific genre and medium.