Gerhard Richter's Public/Private Atlas [1]

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Gerhard Richter, "Atlas",  246-245, 241-240© Lenbachhaus/Monachium, Courtesy of the CCA Ujazdowski Castle
Gerhard Richter, "Atlas", 246-245, 241-240© Lenbachhaus/Monachium, Courtesy of the CCA Ujazdowski Castle

Legend has it that this fall's exhibit at the Center for Contemporary Art/Ujazdowski Castle is to be the last time Gerhard Richter's Atlas will travel outside its permanent home in Munich. Atlas, an artwork that purports to also be a collapsible exhibition, is going to become an artwork that no longer travels; put otherwise, an exhibit that never closes. For work that is not "site-specific" or physically attached, or for a permanent exhibit that is not just an institutional collection, that is rare indeed.

And yet it seems to me that it is precisely artworks' circulatability--their exhibition value as moving groups of objects--that is at the crux of Atlas. In other words, that which I think is Atlas's obsession is about to be eclipsed from its "character set" as it becomes a permanent feature of Munich's artscape. In the following pages I want to tease out this crux by counterposing the notion of a circulating work of art with another kind of object that circulates: the book. I am hoping that through this, Atlas's structural undecidability--its uncertainty about whether it is an object or an exhibition--can become clearer, its terms more apparent. In so doing, I am not arguing for a reading of Atlas as a book, but instead for the project of putting books into play as a kind of counter-object, in order to understand better what kind of object Atlas is.

Part of the uncertainty in Atlas's claim to space involves the issue of whether it's really anything more than an enormous workbook for Richter's painting. It contains sketches of exhibition and framing possibilities; photographs that Richter has made or collected that serve as bases of his paintings; photographs of his paintings and photographs of photographs. Throughout, it puts forward a relationship to painting that can be seen as either a relationship of photography (generally) to painting (generally) or as a relationship of photography to his painting. But I would like to suggest that by investigating how Richter treats the space of photography--in Atlas as in Sander's project, as I will argue, a space that is not independent of the space of the book--we can come to a better understanding of his complex relationship to exhibition space. Which, classically, is largely the space of painting. So that the space about which Atlas seems to feel anxious is both its space of exhibition and that space which is not its own, but by definition other: the space of Richter's painting. [2]

Yet I should admit that books happen to be, for me, a kind of object that is strongly evoked by Atlas's form -especially certain kinds of books, like picture albums and diaries, or, obviously, atlases. So to begin with I am going to compare Atlas to a particular kind of "picture album," August Sander's 1929 Antlitz der Zeit, and subsequently I'm going to discuss a particular concept of the book that poses questions about its forms. The central question that is posed is about how a book unfolds: in other words, how it occupies space, both the "real," physical space of its pages and cover, and the imaginary space that the book's words substitute for. This investigation of the book, published by Stéphane Mallarmé in 1895, proved a critical turning-point for modernism, and yet is consistently overlooked in the discourse on how art deals with issues of space, objecthood, and its commodity status, which is, as I discuss, deeply embedded in the to Mallarméan theorization of the book.

But its general value for art is not the only reason I bring up the apparently distant historical example of Mallarmé. Books are transformed, in his theory, from words on bound pages to objects that make the act of taking up physical space and instilling imaginary substitutes for that space the stakes of their own objecthood. In that transformation, they offer a means to thinking about how objects become critical: how they "worry" about the space that they enter, and embed a sense of that space in their very form. I discuss how Sander's Antlitz der Zeit reveals a sense of anxiety about what exhibition space does to photography; and I will discuss how various panels from Richter's Atlas reveal a sense of worry about exhibition and exhibition spaces. But rather than contend that Atlas provides a clear critique of the problem of exhibition, I try to leave the possibilities of that critique in the work's "unconscious," so to speak, part of its "working-through."

Gerhard Richter, "Atlas", 242-241, © Lenbachhaus/Monachium, Courtesy of the CCA Ujazdowski Castle
Gerhard Richter, "Atlas", 242-241, © Lenbachhaus/Monachium, Courtesy of the CCA Ujazdowski Castle

Of course it is ridiculous to try to think of Atlas in terms of books without admitting that one is also being guided by a kind of determined naiveté, unable to get away from its title and the numerical order of its sheets. But this bears some investigation: how does Atlas stack up to other picture books? If we compare it to Antlitz der Zeit, the 1929 abbreviation of August Sander's attempt to comprehensively map the society of his time in the project Citizens, Atlas differentiates itself strongly in matters of principle and form. Antlitz is notable for its organization of historical types; their side-by-side placement allows Sander to represent the cycles of civilization, and by extension, to allow his medium to stand in for a kind of omniscient, post-human perspective. That ambivalence towards the limits of human knowledge seems to me to come through quite forcefully in Sander's style: his images and their overarching structure hold on to a deeply positivist air of objectivity, while the entire archive--its structure, categories, and strictness--is imbued with the highly potent romanticism of the individual, captured again and again[3]. This delicate balance betrays, I think, a fear of two opposite poles. On the one hand, the strong aura of the individual threatens to overtake Sander's typology and rub out its critical edge: he must have wanted his work to resist dissipating into the nimbus of individual aura. On the other hand, photography itself courts the arbitrary, and the typology, with its accent on the irrelevance of (the photographer's) subjective choice -which individuals of which professions at which hour of the day in which town -can only exacerbate that threat: Sander's carefully posed and sternly gazing subjects show him fleeing arbitrariness. Thus, that which would mitigate the aura of individuality in Sander's work -the systematicity of the typology -would court the random; the random would potentially rob his work of presence, of aura. It is as a kind of resolution to this double bind that I believe Sander used the book-form; to introduce a structure in which the inviolable orderliness of page-after-page sequencing would transcend the power of the photographed individual to seduce, but in which each individual or group would stare out at the viewer alone, uncrowded by other portraits. In terms of both orderliness and intimacy, the book-form offers Sander an improvement over the walls of an exhibition room. In this sense, there is no viewing structure more private or more dictatorial than that of a book.

It's worth noting that the kind of organizational structure that Sander uses--the chapter form, essentially -responds to a fundamental demand of the book form, which seeks to impart meaning (narrative development, the separation of subjects) through its generic formal structures. In Richter's Atlas, qualities like narrative development and the separation of subjects are avoided like the plague. The situation he faces is different from Sander's: for one, his photographic material is not limited to a single genre, like portraiture. This means that still lifes, landscapes, portraits, interiors, etc. can be mixed together, which they are, with no attempt to categorize or divide. But as with Sander's larger project, the order of panels in Atlas is not inviolable; in exhibition, panels can be removed, replaced, added, and Atlas can be shown as either a fragment or as a "whole[4]."The sequence published in catalogue form is only a document of the working principles of Atlas, which include the mobility of its components: its modularity, in a sense. Atlas's ambivalence towards booklike meaningful categorization is apparent: mitigating the apparent orderliness of numbered sheets and the page-like organization of those panels[5] are an insistence on modularity and the random mixture of genres.

Atlas reinforces its drive against the generation of meaning through the photos themselves. On sheet after sheet, the lens focuses as if arbitrarily on landscapes, skies, domestic interiors, domestic objects, strangers, family members, sometimes on nothing; it also unfocuses, blurs, under-, over- and double-exposes. These techniques add up to a kind of deliberate stylistic listlessness--what has been repeatedly referred to as the "banality" or "naiveté" of Richter's photography in Atlas. Again, however, I would like to suggest a triangulated relation between this kind of photography, the use of a book-form, and the historical example of Sander's work. When, in 1951, Sander tries to conceive of exhibiting his portraits, he finds that the question of exhibiting photographs "singly" or in a small group presents him with a conflict:

Gerhard Richter, "Atlas",  plate no 27, © Lenbachhaus/Monachium, Courtesy of the CCA Ujazdowski Castle
Gerhard Richter, "Atlas", plate no 27, © Lenbachhaus/Monachium, Courtesy of the CCA Ujazdowski Castle

A successful photo is only a preliminary step toward the intelligent use of photography. ...I would very much like to show my work again, but I cannot show it in a single photo, nor in two or three, after all, they could just as well be snapshots. Photography is like a mosaic that becomes a synthesis only when it is presented en masse. That is the way I used photography in my work Face of the Time. (emphasis added)[6]

As opposed to the meaningful ("synthetic") whole that the book-form allows, the singly exhibited photograph approaches the condition of the snapshot, an emblem, for Sander, of anti-synthesis, anti-meaning. The snapshot is by no means an "innocent" term for anti-meaning: indeed, Sander seems to have ingested Valéry's 1939 warning: "The snapshot ...shows us what we would see if we were uniformly sensitive to everything that light imprints upon our retinas, and nothing else." In Valéry's analogy between photographic and retinal "imprints," it is clear that what drops out in the "snapshot" is the human ability to order sensory data ("everything...and nothing else[7]") and extract meaning from that order. The chemical, mechanical process of photography becomes the specter of an objectivity that transcends the human, an objectivity that is by definition anti- or post-human. Indeed, this analogy ends a paragraph that begins: "Photography could, for example, prompt us to revive, if not rejuvenate, the ancient and difficult problem of objectivity" [8] (emphasis in the original).

The association between photography and "the ancient and difficult problem of objectivity" is hardly new, but Valéry takes two rather extreme steps. One is his use of the snapshot to emblematize the association of the photograph with the objective--and thereby rescue all other photography from that fate. The other is in arguing that in its objectivity, the snapshot partakes of objectivity's arbitrariness, its refusal to humanly order information. [9]

I would suggest that that that quality of arbitrariness was a specter haunting Sander's approach to his work as well. To anyone considering the meticulousness and unbelievably crystalline quality of his portraits, this can only be surprising. But, I would suggest, that randomness is precisely what he feared not only in exhibition ("I cannot show it in a single photo, nor in two or three...") but in photography itself. If he needed the book-form of Antlitz to present his photography as a "mosaic," might that not be thanks to a particular set of dangers inherent in photography proper? The particular paradox that Sander settled upon--the revelation of the idiosyncratic and the individualistic in the typology - can lead us to see this threat: I would suggest that his anxiety about photography in exhibition might as well.

If Sander worried that his photos could become "snapshots" without the structure of a book, what kind of function is served by the structure that Richter has invented? If we accept, provisionally, that these viewing-structures are symptoms of particular anxieties, then what kind of anxiety can be imagined from the peculiar structures created by Atlas? And finally, given that these structures govern at once the issue of the work's nature "and" its circulatability, how do they in fact point us toward an understanding of the relation or identity between those two terms?

There are a series of panels within Atlas in which Richter appears to envision his work's exhibition. Not surprisingly, they seem to reveal some of a moody sense of crisis around the question of exhibition space and what it suggests for art. Many of these panels can be found rather early in Atlas's loose chronology, when Richter begins placing found postcards and aerial photographs from books into sketches of unidentified rooms. (These panels correspond, chronologically, to the beginning of the Townscapes in 1968.) At first rudimentary, the collages soon grow into something slightly different: sketches that include gridded, cut-up photographs and a few stick figures apparently representing art viewers, museum- or gallery-goers. What is Richter doing in these collages, where the margins of white wall between paintings cast sparkling light onto shiny floors; where the bits of watercolors and photographs stand for painting so monumentalized that their architecture appears monstrous?

Gerhard Richter, "Atlas",  plate no. 247-246, 231-230, © Lenbachhaus/Monachium, Courtesy of the CCA Ujazdowski Castle
Gerhard Richter, "Atlas", plate no. 247-246, 231-230, © Lenbachhaus/Monachium, Courtesy of the CCA Ujazdowski Castle

They evoke a museum, something that he sketches several years later, in 1975, and then titles, appropriately and brilliantly, Museum [Barracks or Administration Building] for 1,000 Pictures. This sketch is both "a" museum and a museum for his own work, a museum that he seems to be designing for his work, tailored to it [10]. In Atlas, when his own "pictures" in these fantasized exhibitions -still just cutouts of photographs of his skyscapes--become perfectly round (panels 227, 243, 245, 250), then his pictures do indeed begin to resemble some kind of special painterly sun, around which the world of the exhibition would revolve. The irony underpinning these visions is completely deadpan: Richter seems to be equating the dictatorship of the picture with the totalitarian style of Museum Architecture, so that the two, art and exhibition space, work together seamlessly. In one panel (250), bits of different skies peek in through the rectangular slots of a Mondrian-esque geometric abstraction. The sky submits to the architecture's demands, and at the same time, even obviating its function as a boundary between the two realms. The synergy of architecture and galaxy appears perfect.

Another panel that shares Richter's widespread fixation with windows is dated to 1967, the year that he made 4 Panes of Glass. In two photographs of his studio, Richter frames a single Pane sitting in the middle of his studio, which in turn frames several paintings of women, including one (that strongly recalls Picasso's Demoiselles d'Avignon) based on a soft-porn photograph. The peculiar reduplication of space created within the artificial frame of the Pane is then complicated by a series of paintings of doors that line the left wall. Like one of de Chirico's meditations on the would-be time warps of arid neoclassical architecture, this weirdly dreamlike series of "exits" to Richter's studio makes its left wall seem permeable, while on the right wall, several of the Eight Student Nurses lean into the room, their seriality echoing that of the doors'. Here the space of "exhibition" is that of Richter's studio, and the many figures pictured within- painted prostitutes and nurses among others -are mere stand-ins for the "real" (absent) viewers.

The pictured space is insupportable, divided and then reunited, as in de Chirico's metaphysical surrealism and Picasso's early cubism, on one impossible surface. Yet here the surface is not painterly, but photographic. And what is more, in Richter's photograph, the photographic lens finds an echo within the image, in the Pane itself. This helps us to see that it is not incidental that the "insupportable" surface should be photographic. In revealing a space that is not necessarily whole or "real" -that does not lay claim to a "wholeness" to which painting can only aspire -these photographs give us a sense of what Photography is, to Atlas. As a space in the margins of Richter's painting, photography is not the late-born, Frankensteinian little brother to painting, capable of an inhuman realism yet saddled with its own pathos. In fact, it need not present painting with any particular kind of sibling rivalry at all: judging from these tiny clues scattered across Atlas, photography can be a witness to painting's struggle with the impositions of exhibition and exhibition space on the work of art.

How, then, do we see Atlas's form struggling with this anxiety around the exhibition? The cutouts that magnify paintings resonating in empty halls approximate a dread of "immediate experience," or what Benjamin described with biting acuity: "Poverty of experience; it should not be understood as if men longed for a new experience. No; they long to liberate themselves from experiences[11]." Who wouldn't want to escape these halls? Their empty monumentality, like the dusty labyrinths pictured in his studio, all inserted into the laconic image-bank of Atlas's numbered panels: the despotic rule on display in these collage finds a kind of mirror in the arbitrariness of Atlas's system. Art, in these panels, is always already sold into a circulatory system, and that circulatory system is a no-way-out warren of rooms, of uninhabitable, tyrannical spaces.

Gerhard Richter, "Atlas",  plate  no. 229-228, © Lenbachhaus/Monachium, Courtesy of the CCA Ujazdowski Castle
Gerhard Richter, "Atlas", plate no. 229-228, © Lenbachhaus/Monachium, Courtesy of the CCA Ujazdowski Castle

Sander, in 1929, proposed one solution to the conflict presented by the space of exhibition, but both the solution that he found -the book -and the terms of his problem are tied up in questions immanent to the photographic medium. Richter's solution, I'd like to suggest, also detours through the book -Atlas's title and numbered pages being only one clue. But, as promised, the "book" in question is one that questions its own status, that plays with the book's form: it is the book revolutionized by the author of Un Coup de dés, and theorized in a group of essays published in 1897, under the title Quant au livre (As for the book). For Mallarmé, the book is animated by its objecthood, by the fluttering of its pages as it lies open on a garden bench [12]; yet, as becomes apparent in the descriptions throughout his tract, this objecthood is indissociably part of the book's abject status, its place, unwanted and unsold, on sagging bookstore shelves. Étalages, the essay in Quant au livre that deals most specifically with the book's commodity status, begins by describing the "disaster" in the bookstores, the "krach" of unsold volumes covering their floors thanks to a public unused to reading. This is a public instead led "probably to contemplate, without intermediary, the sunsets familiar to the season and beautiful [13]." Mallarmé compares this to the sudden proliferation of open-air bookstalls, and invokes the gloved hand of a woman who chooses a brochure, in order to place it between her eyes and the sea. Then: "For the Far-East, Spain and the delicious illiterate, the fold (eventail) is closer than this other wing of paper more alive: infinite and summary in its unfolding (déploiement), it hides the site to return to her lips a mute flower painted like the word, intact and null, of a dream.[14]"

For Mallarmé, it is the folded brochure-not the wing of simple paper--that hides the site in order to return to the woman the (power of the) word. In other words, the form that hides the "real" space beyond the text is a form specific to books and the system of binding their folios. This is the form that permits the release of the book's "unreal" space. Mallarmé sees the reader's sight enveloped by the magical folds of printed matter, the entire scope of her vision eclipsed by the potency of hidden words. Those who watch sunsets, presumably through their windows, are viewers of a scene given to them with immediacy. They are the potential converts, in his fantasy, to the magical powers of the book, which would introduce a space of the imaginary only by presenting its own objecthood in the foreground. The book's peculiar structure of admitting both an inside and an outside, of making those two dialectically interdependent, is the source of its magic, even if it is also the source of the poet's (economic) despair[15].

In this sense, Mallarmé's politics of the book bring him very close to a stringent critique of the value of circulation under capitalism. It is the book's resistance to being read that opposes it to the plane of the newspaper, to the newspaper's seeming oneness with the now, a oneness that obscures the very value on which it depends [16]. This is precisely the same logic as Marx's attack on the money-form, an attack that would be echoed, more than a century later, in the work of Jean-Joseph Goux. Yet Mallarmé's critique of the book-form encompasses a thinking-through of the particular relation that a book has to space (comparable, perhaps, to the conceptualization of how capital acts on space that we find in Marx and elaborated in the work of Henri Lefebvre). But Mallarmé's concept of space is not unary: it operates on multiple planes. Space is the divisible space that cuts between the inside and the outside, emblematized in the book's folios and cover: its form. It is also the pretend seamlessness of a space beyond the book, the space of the reader's imagination that is hyperbolized in his reference to the reading woman's "voyages." And finally, it is the space of circulation, on which the book depends, even in order to displace the reader and "except" itself. It is all three of these kinds of "space," tying them together into a single logic. Indeed, one could see Mallarmé's concept of the "space" of the book as a synonym for a certain kind of logic. The logic that enables the object to become "exceptional" to its own sustaining logic is metaphorized in Mallarmé's concept of space: space, which his poetry is constantly setting into type, itself operates as a metaphor.

How, in looking at these strange panels in Richter's Atlas, do we see the ways he dodges the archive's totalizing tendencies (or uses them) in order to "save" his object from the crisis of circulation? How do we see the book-like form of the archive as the promise of a replacement for an actual displacement or voyage--a substitute that would fill the viewer's field of vision, replace utterly those spectacular moments of seeing in a museum that Richter envisions in his nightmarish sketch and collages? How does Richter show us, with Atlas, something that functions as the organizing principle of Mallarmé's theory of the book -like, space as a dialectical imprisonment, enabling?

Gerhard Richter, "Atlas", plate  no. 235-234, © Lenbachhaus/Monachium, Courtesy of the CCA Ujazdowski Castle
Gerhard Richter, "Atlas", plate no. 235-234, © Lenbachhaus/Monachium, Courtesy of the CCA Ujazdowski Castle

I would like to propose that we search out ways that Atlas inhabits its last foreign site, not merely as a site to be filled, but as an object that reveals anxieties about "filling," circulating and being seen as an exhibition. I have pointed to particular sheets from Atlas's collection, and to its structural aspects -the numbering and page-like organization of its sheets -to support my claim that those anxieties determine, to some measure, Atlas's form. But if it is to become an object with oppositional power -in the same vein that Mallarmé suggested that the book opposes the ready plane of the circulatory gaze that the newspaper invites -then Atlas would have to be an object that strikes at its own objecthood and its place in circulation. It would need to align its fantasies of exhibition--even its most paranoid fantasies -with an actual system of viewing. It would need to assume that there is no place to turn away from the valuation of circulation in a system that traffics in "that which, perhaps, should not be sold, especially when it cannot be sold." Atlas would have to suppose that there is no "outside" to ideology, no other place to circulation's "place."

I'm not sure that Atlas does manage all of this, though I'd like to ascribe such criticality to the work that shows Richter's anxieties about exhibition -especially the exhibitionality of his own painting. (Which is not the same as saying that Richter's painting does not achieve criticality about many things, including the medium of paint.) I'd rather think of this instead as another "undecidable" aspect to Atlas: the question of whether it is, in fact, a critical object, or whether it poses its criticality as only one possibility within a range that extends to utter neutrality. That neutrality, after all, can never be absent from a work that vividly calls up the quotidian framework of the sketchbook, the working archive of a madly efficient painter. I would not deny that Atlas includes that banality; I might raise the possibility that in allowing itself to be read as such a "neutral" object, it still asks, why do we-or Richter -exhibit this? What are the terms of exhibition, what are its demands, as opposed to those forms of reading and seeing that exclude exhibition... such as reading? The peculiar look into the space of exhibition that Atlas offers need not dis-contain it from any mere space of exhibition. But it can still offer a fantasy of dis-containment, by placing itself literally in front of those walls, or our view of them. In the apparently infinite extension of its sheets, one can see Atlas as an unfolding that subscribes it to a system with which it remains at odds, and yet, on which it is dependent for the very source of anxiety it diffuses.

[1] I would like to thank Pawel Polit for his extremely gracious invitation to Warsaw in May 2004, in which I was able to present an earlier version of this paper.

[2] I have argued elsewhere against the logics mobilized by the Museum of Modern Art's retrospective ("On Gerhard Richter: Forty Years of Painting," Documents 21, January 2003), and its characterization of photography of Richter's painting as overdetermined by a battle for authenticity with photographic media: "…This self-consciously anti-aesthetic school of thought took it as a given that painting had been rendered historically obsolete by new media--in particular by photomechanical means that permitted the mass reproduction of words and images. If painting were to serve any credible function, they maintained, it would be as an instrument to hasten the demolition of the formal and ideological foundations that had previously held painting up and guaranteed its preeminence among other art forms." Robert Storr, "Introduction," in Gerhard Richter: Forty Years of Painting (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2002), p. 16.

[3] This dialectic is stated rather differently in the discussion of "objectivity" that opens George Baker's "Photography Between Narrativity and Stasis: August Sander, Degeneration, and the Decay of the Portrait," in October 76, Spring 1996, p. 75.

[4] Atlas was shown as particularly small fragments in, for example, the group show "Face a l'Histoire" at the Centre Pompidou in 1996 and in Richter's retrospective at the MoMA in 2002. The pragmatic rationale for its modularity is insisted upon by the curators charged with its maintenance: "Within any given hanging scheme, some sheets appear to have been omitted for purely visual reasons connected with the nature of the available space." Helmut Friedel, "The Atlas 1962-1997" in Gerhard Richter, Atlas of the photographs collages and sketches (D.A.P. N.Y. in association with Anthony d'Offay London and Marian Goodman New York, 1997), p. 7.

[5] The notion that the panels can or should be read as pages, rather than, for instance, collage-like surfaces, could be extended by the model of paratactic collage elaborated by Benjamin Buchloh. This model, set up in relation to Marcel Broodthaers's work, is opposed to the "syntactic character of collage aesthetics from Cubism to the early collage work of the Soviet avantgarde": "In the [paratactic] model, by contrast, with its emphasis on a relative homogeneity of sources and materials and its ostentatious de-dramatization and de-spatialization of collage dynamics, collage is defined as a collection of image-quotations, ordered according to the principles of archival alignment, with its lapidary positioning of one thing next to another." Benjamin H.D.Buchloh, "Contemplating Publicity: Marcel Broodthaers's Section Publicité" in Section Publicité du Musée d'Art Moderne Département des Aigles by Marcel Broodthaers, ed. Maria Gilissen and Benjamin H.D. Buchloh (New York: Marian Goodman Gallery, 1995), p. 96.

[6] Letter to Abelen, Jan. 16, 1951, in the possession of G. Sander. Cited in Ulrich Keller's text accompaniment to August Sander: Citizens of the Twentieth Century Portrait Photographs 1892-1952, ed. Gunther Sander (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1986 (for the English edition).

[7] Paul Valéry, "The Centenary of Photography", in Classic Essays on Photography, ed. Alan Trachtenberg (New Haven: Leete's Island Books, 1980), 196.

[8] Ibid.

[9] According to Valéry, the human capacities (for reason, imagination, etc.) are used against the objectivity of appearances ("What would become of philosophy if it did not have the means of questioning appearances?"), and photography--but not the snapshot--becomes a metaphor for those human capacities. "What is Plato's famous cave if not a camera obscura, the largest ever conceived, I suppose? If Plato had reduced the mouth of his grotto to a tiny hole and applied a sensitized coat to the wall that served as his screen, by developing the rear of the cave he could have obtained a gigantic film, and heaven knows what astounding conclusions he might have left regarding the nature of our knowledge and the essence of our ideas." Ibid., p. 197.

[10] Benjamin Buchloh notes, "In a series of drawings from 1975, the artist envisages the construction of a military barracks/administrative building as a museum for a thousand monochrome paintings, a space to house this serially produced, cultural industrial complex." In "Richter's Eight Gray: Between Vorschein and Glantz" in Gerhard Richter: Eight Gray (New York and Berlin: Deutsche Guggenheim Publications, 2003), 14.

[11] In "Experience and Poverty," Walter Benjamin, Selected Writings, Volume II (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999).

[12] "Sur un banc de jardin, ou telle publication neuve, je me réjouis si l'air, en passant, entr'ouvre et, au hasard, anime, d'aspects, l'extérieur du livre: plusieurs--a quoi, tant l'aperçu jaillit, personne depuis qu'on lut, peut-etre n'a pensé." "Le livre, instrument spirituel," in Stéphane Mallarmé, Igitur, Divagations, Un Coup de dés (Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1976), p. 267.

[13] "Les volumes jonchaient le sol, que ne disait-on, invendus; a cause du public se déshabituant de lire probablement pour contempler a meme, sans intermédiaire, les couchers du soleil familiers a la saison et beaux." "Étalages," in ibid., p. 259.

[14] "Ce que pour l'extreme-orient, L'Espagne et de délicieux illettrés, l'éventail a la difference pres que cette autre aile de papier plus vive: infiniment et sommaire en son déploiement, cache le site pour rapporter contre les levres une muette fleur peinte comme le mot intact et nul de la songerie par les battements approché." "Étalages," 261.

[15] In a letter to Verlaine in 1885: "Au fond je considere l'époque contemporaine comme un interregne pour le poëte, qui n'a point a s'y meler: elle est trop en désuétude et en effervescence préparatoire, pour qu'il ait autre chose a faire qu'a travailler avec mystere en vue de plus tard ou de jamais et de temps en temps a envoyer aux vivants sa carte de visite, stances ou sonnet, pour n'etre point lapidé d'eux, s'ils le soupçonnaient de savoir qu'ils n'ont pas lieu." In Correspondence: Lettres sur la poésie (Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1959/1995), p. 587-8.

[16] The newspaper's identification with the "now" takes place formally, in all the aspects that Mallarmé decries (the headline, the column of text, the hierarchization of its contents), summed up in the flat expanse of its open sheets (as opposed to the book's precious folds). I discuss Mallarmé's newspaper/book dyad in Chapter Two of my dissertation, Marcel Broodthaers 1964-1972: or the Absence of Work.