German Studies

Faculty Publication from Gerhard Richter

Congratulations to Gerhard Richter on the publication of his newest monograph with Edinburgh University Press!

Uncontainable Legacies

Gerhard Richter, Uncontainable Legacies: Theses on Intellectual, Cultural, and Political Inheritance 

How do our ceaseless conversations with what has passed and with those who have passed something on to us propel us into a precarious future? In a series of evocatively titled theses, including ‘Wrinkles’, ‘Inheriting a Feeling’, ‘Weight of the World’ and ‘Making Treasures Speak’, Gerhard Richter engages the quintessentially human dilemma of how to receive an intellectual, cultural or political inheritance.

In dialogue with philosophers including Heraclitus, Arendt and Derrida; writers such as Montaigne, Hölderlin, Kafka and Knausgaard; artists such as Michelangelo, Picasso, Anselm Kiefer and Art Spiegelman; filmmakers such as Jean-Marie Straub; scholars and scientists Freud and Einstein; and pop-cultural phenomena the rock band The Who and the Broadway play The Inheritance, Richter contemplates the problem of interpreting an inheritance that resists full transparency.

Richter argues that inheriting is not the same as yearning for a former presence or nostalgically striving to preserve an identity. At once philosophical and poetic, his aphoristic theses illuminate how the constantly shifting nature of our relationship to what we inherit from others makes us who we are.