Interviewing the Artist: Richter Versus Bacon
The interview format, both in written form and on film, suggests that artists know best how their work should be treated, exhibited, and explained. Its general premise is that knowing the artist’s intention is necessary to understand the work of art. Even if this intention if not fixed or fallible, and the artist will not always be willing to give an explanation, it is still regarded as a vital primary source. This chapter by Sandra Kisters focuses on two opposing documentaries: Gerhard Richter Painting (2009) by Corinna Belz, and Francis Bacon and The Brutality of Fact (1985) by Michael Blackwood. In the former, the main focus is on the artistic process, the “interviews” are short questions filmmaker Belz asks Richter (1932), while the artist looks at his own paintings, evaluating them, deciding whether or not they need an extra layer of paint, often applied with a squeegee. In the latter, the artistic process of British painter Francis Bacon (1909–1992) is totally absent, although the film does include scenes shot in the artist's studio. In both cases‚ the artist is interviewed, albeit in different ways. Both films “mediatize” the artist, and they both demonstrate how the artist deals with being subjected to the camera's gaze.