Painting history

The Department of Film & Video’s series, The Independents, concludes on April 15 with a free public lecture by American film critic Kaja Silverman (right).

Titled “How to Paint History”, Silverman’s talk will focus on the work of German painter Gerhard Richter, who is internationally renowned for his photo-based painting style and considered among the most important artists of the 20th century.

Richter starts with a photograph, which he has found or taken himself, and projects it onto his canvas where he traces it for exact form. Taking his color palette from the photograph, he paints to replicate the look of the original picture. Then, through the light touch of a soft brush and sometimes a hard smear by an aggressive pull with a squeegee, Richter creates his hallmark “blur,” setting up a relationship between reality and illusion. By bringing together painting and photography, his artistic style has been credited with refreshing art and rejuvenating painting as a medium.

Right: Meadowland, oil on canvas by Gerhard Richter, painted in 1985

Silverman will present her illustrated talk in two one-hour blocks. In the first part she will discuss Richter’s later body of abstract work, which is based on analogy. In particular, she will focus on a group of concentration camp photographs and a series of photographs documenting the arrest, imprisonment and deaths of three members of the German terrorist group RAF. In the second part, Silverman will address the analogical shift in Richter’s work.

Silverman taught at Yale University, Trinity College, Simon Fraser University, Brown University and the University of Rochester before joining the Rhetoric Department and Film Studies Program at the University of California at Berkeley in 1991. She is the author of numerous articles and books, including: The Subject of Semiotics (Oxford University Press, 1983); The Acoustic Mirror: The Female Voice in Psychoanalysis and Cinema (Indiana University Press, 1988); Male Subjectivity at the Margins (Routledge Press, 1992); The Threshold of the Visible World (Routledge Press, 1996); Speaking About Godard (with Harun Farocki, New York University Press, 1998); and World Spectators (Stanford University Press, 2000).

Left: Gerhard Richter

Silverman’s talk will be introduced by filmmaker, curator, writer and University of Toronto professor Kay Armatage. The lecture will take place Friday, April 15, at 2pm in the Nat Taylor Cinema, N102  Ross Bldg., Keele campus. Admission is free.

The Independents is presented by the Department of Film & Video, Faculty of Fine Arts and the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies. For more information about the lecture, call ext. 22174.

This article was submitted to YFile by Mary-Lou Schagena, publicist, Faculty of Fine Arts.