To Make That Judgment. The Pragmatism of Gerhard Richter

Reacting to a modernist-postmodernist impasse at which art seems to have lost its paradigmatic orientation, this paper undertakes to work out the conditions under which a new paradigm for our time is possible, and how such a paradigm might look like. To this end, it examines the work of the painter Gerhard Richter as a case study. Richter’s work articulates a radical shift from essentialist models of artistic form to a pragmatic model – to be more precise, a model based in a specifically pragmatist account of judgment. Because judgment combines perfect determination of artistic form with the suspension of rule and principle, it appears to meet the modernist-postmodernist challenge and to offer itself for paradigmatic relevance. In its final part, the paper shows why it is that such a program – despite its indeed programmatic character and paradigmatic reach – does not need to be taken for yet another essentialist proposition, and does therefore not find itself contradicting its own premises.