Theory of Form

Theory of Form
A pragmatist conception of artistic form, through a study of the painter Gerhard Richter.

In this study of the practice of contemporary painter Gerhard Richter, Florian Klinger proposes a fundamental change in the way we think about art today. In reaction to the exhaustion of the modernist-postmodernist paradigm's negotiation of the "essence of art," he takes Richter to pursue a pragmatist model that understands artistic form as action. Here form is no longer conceived according to what it says--as a vehicle of expression, representation, or realization of something other than itself--but strictly according to what it does.

Through its doing, Klinger argues, artistic form is not only more real but also more shared than non-artistic reality, and thus enables interaction under conditions where it would otherwise not be possible. It is a human practice aimed at testing and transforming the limits of shared reality, urgently needed in situations where such reality breaks down or turns precarious. Drawing on pragmatist thought, philosophical aesthetics, and art history, Klinger's account of Richter's practice offers a highly distinctive conceptual alternative for contemporary art in general.

Publication Date: 
January 10, 2022