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Unaware or unwilling to admit that some would be tempted to call certain artists painters because, funnily enough, they make paintings, in an interview that preceded the opening of her documenta X (1997), Catherine David resorted to what is now called 'spin':
Robert Storr: Other than, possibly, Ryman, definitely Richter, and, alas, not Polke, were there any other artists making paintings that you saw as at least potentially part of this discussion?
Catherine David: No. In the exhibition, there are some artists who deal with iconography who you might be tempted to call painters - but I think that label is irrelevant. We invited Kerry James Marshall; we invited Lari Pittman; we invited David Reeb from Israel - and I don't think it's helpful to describe their work as painting. They are privileging cultural operations, crossbreeding, questioning cultural identity and using specific image-strategies.
RS: Lari Pittman is most certainly a painter, though.
CD: For me, the iconographical work is the privileged point of access to his world and discourse.
RS: Yes, but that's a very limited reading. Because if he builds the surfaces the way he does, or if he strips them down the way he does, that's within a language of painting - where the significant meanings have to do precisely with how the iconography appears, not just that it is there.
CD: You can call them painters, but it's not really relevant in this documenta, where we've tried to be very precise about image-strategies.1
Whether painting, poetics or politics, one person's precision can be another's erasure. No one, of course, needs to tell Kerry James Marshall this: for more than thirty years he has taken aim