Midnight in Paris–a film that takes us back to Jazz Age Paris and the Lost Generation. And then the city in the Belle Epoque. It could just as well have been turn-of-the-century Vienna, 1950s New York, Victorian London, Hollywood in the silver screen era, or the Silicon Valley in the 70s. Today, I want to share part one of a favorite, and often overlooked, example of this idea–the idea that a time and a place so captures and consumes an age, it changes history so utterly, for better or worse or both. Germany in the mid-19th century “Romantic” period did just that, with beautiful, and sometimes terrifying, ideas.
For those familiar with Gerhard Richter, he is often associated with his abstract, colorful “squeegee” works. A large portion of his artistic production, however, consists of photo paintings that include his trademark “blur.” In this particular painting–one of his early works–Richter copied a photo of his Aunt Marianne holding Richter as an infant. His Aunt developed Schizophrenia, spent 21 years in a sanatorium, and was euthanized in 1945 as part of Nazi Germany’s “Aktion T4” program, meant to “cleanse” society of mentally “unfit” individuals.