As an Interior: Reimagining Gerhard Richter’s Atlas
Keywords:Interiors, Architecture, representation, art
Gerhard Richter’s Atlas is a compilation of images arranged across 783 multi-image panels. Since its initial exhibition in 1972, it has been continuously expanded, amended and reorganised based on the volume of panels shown in each stage of its iteration. The serialisation of Atlas’s photographic register, its orthogonal schedule of panels (or sheets) grouped into blocks, is a by-product of its social, cultural and material conditions. It is built from ‘walls of images’ shaped by the architecture of a given room.[i]
Yet, Atlas is inherently an interior. Whilst Benjamin H. D. Buchloh’s reading of Atlas as a didactic model of display and/or mnemonic device, and Giuliana Bruno’s account of its emotive and/or filmic quality, are ways to navigate the work itself, this paper instead reconstructs its space of representation to critically reflect on the narrative sequences built in space. This paper reimagines Richter’s Atlas as an interior–a room of images where Atlas makes the architecture.
Rather than extending observations on Atlas as a retrospective of Richter’s artistic practice, the paper acts as a retrospective of its room(s). Moving beyond collecting, ordering and exhibiting images, this examination of Atlas detects the bond between surfaces, openings, sheets and subjects. Using ordinary orthographic methods, Atlas is inverted and drawn to trace the production and organisation of its framework for encounter and meaning. This depiction of space offers a way to see how Atlas constructs it. Lastly, the paper argues that this discursive practice, and the systematic form of Atlas itself, can bring about alternative ways of perceiving the work’s chronological, conceptual, and spatial, pathways.
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