To explore the artist's work and life, click on an image below. Around the same time, he began collecting the photographs that comprise Atlas, the ever-expanding compendium of source images from whose panels he still draws, ranging from personal snapshots to celebrity glam-shots, from advertisements to pornography, landscape postcards to photographs of concentration camps - which he has never used, because he found them "unpaintable". The painting's many layers, strokes, and scrapes of color may thus appear as "beautiful" as anything found in nature that came into existence partly according to a predetermined structure (such as DNA), as well as by way of unpredictable occasions of pure chance and the action of outside forces. ", "Gray is the color.. the most important of all.. absent of opinion, nothing, neither/nor. Richter began painting figuratively in a European variation on pop art in the 1960s. Gerhard Richter, often called the best living painter, begins work on his portraits by projecting photographs on to canvas. ", "I don't dare to think my paintings are great. The other common themes in his work are the elements of chance, and the play between realism and abstraction. Richter increasingly employed his own painting as a means for exploring how images that appear to capture "truth" often prove, on extended viewing, far less objective, or unsure in meaning, than originally assumed. This powerful gesture suggests a consideration of how abstract forms may well serve as a painter's subject just as effectively, for their visual or optical interest, as any photographic or "realistic" scene derived from nature, or the "everyday world" around us. Some critics take the variety in his work to signal a conviction that painting is obsolete; others protest that he is a "true believer", who paints to prove that painting lives. Of course, there are different ways to survive. Moorhouse has taken pains to draw attention to the philosophical dimensions of Richter's style. "People look at the variety and are bewildered," Moorhouse told me. Gerhard Richter is known for a prolific and stylistically varied exploration of the medium of painting, often incorporating and exploring the visual effects of photography. The "father problem" that the young Richter shared with many Germans of his generation anticipated his ambivalent attitude towards the people and institutions he encountered as a young artist. ", "I'm still very sure that painting is one of the most basic human capacities, like dancing and singing, that make sense, that stay with us, as something human. Although the central character in the film — known in Germany as Werk Ohne Autor (Work Without Author) — is called Kurt Barnert, it is clearly based on Gerhard Richter. Richter has produced abstract as well as photorealistic paintings, and also photographs and glass pieces. Gerhard Richter’s newly unveiled stained-glass windows at an abbey in South Germany are his last major work, completing one of the most important oeuvres of the 20 th and 21 st centuries.. Gerhard Richter, ABSTRAKTES BILD (649-2), 1987.Courtesy Sotheby's Hong Kong. In 1948, at the age of 16, Richter quit his formal education and took up an apprenticeship as a set painter for the theater. Gerhard Richter has completed his final major artwork, according to the artist himself. Gerhard Richter – Kölner Domfenster (Cologne Cathedral Window), 2007, 11,000 hand blown glass panels, 72 colors and shades, 9.6 x 9.6 cm each, total size 2300 x 900 cm (106 sqm), photo: CC BY-NC 2.0 by Second-Half Travels See available prints and multiples, paintings, and photographs for sale and learn about the artist. He has lived and worked in Germany his entire life. Gerhard Richter (German: [ˈʀɪçtɐ]; born 9 February 1932) is a German visual artist. But his willingness to accede to the dogmas of socialist realism crumbled as he discovered the alternative styles thriving across the border. Richter increasingly employed his own painting as a means for exploring how images that appear to capture "truth" often prove, on extended viewing, far less objective, or unsure in meaning, than originally assumed. The only intervention of the artist in an otherwise mechanical process seems to be his control of the scale of the canvas itself, the artist's having arranged the color combinations via reference to an apparently logical, predetermined schema. "The masses of photographs that passed through the developing bath every day," he has said, "may well have caused a lasting trauma." ", "I believe in painting and I believe in eating too. I'm shocked now that the story seems clear, because it didn't seem clear at the time." ... views and analysis from the international art world delivered directly to your inbox. They constitute a form of remembrance of what they know they cannot fully represent. Richter's mother, the daughter of a concert pianist, encouraged her son's early talent for draftsmanship. Richter would often blur his subjects and embrace chance effects in his own painting process in order to show the impossibility of any artist conveying the full truth of a subject in its original condition. He has worked primarily as a painter exploring both photorealistic methods and abstract works. Richter later remarked: "Photographs were the way forward. Reproductions in the Dresden library stopped at impressionism. His subjects soon become ghosts Selbstportrait (Self … Like Richter's other figurative paintings it is taken from a photograph - in this case a family snap of her, a shy teenage girl, proudly holding her baby nephew, the four-month-old Gerhard Richter. Richter employs a systematic approach to the canvas in his color-chart-based painting 1024 Farben (1024 Colors). "When you take a painting, you open the gap even further. ... 2010 Richter Case Analysis I. ", "Photography altered ways of seeing and thinking. That's the opposite of before. Working alongside but never fully embracing a quick succession of late-20th-century art movements, such as Abstract Expressionism, American/British Pop art, Minimalism, and Conceptualism, Richter has absorbed many of their ideas while remaining skeptical of all grand artistic and philosophical credos. Now we have interesting things. What can we do? [Internet]. This fine volume gathers together these works going back to their first appearance in the late 1980s, and discusses in depth his techniques and approaches in making these small mixed media … By the 1860s, when "spirit photographers" in the US and Europe were reaping small fortunes, using multiple exposure and other tricks to produce images of the beyond, it had become obvious that the new medium had come into its own as just that: a medium. Gerhard Richter is a German painter who originally trained in a realist style and later developed an appreciation for the more progressive work of his American and European contemporaries. In October 2012, Richter's Abstraktes Bild set an auction record price for a painting by … Gerhard Richter's photo-inspired paintings are as dazzlingly beautiful as they are enigmatic. Gerhard Richter is a German painter who originally trained in a realist style and later developed an appreciation for the more progressive work of his American and European contemporaries. Photo by Benjamin Katz. “Because style … "If you want to understand what it's all about ... look at the portraits. Paul Moorhouse, the curator of the show at the National Portrait Gallery, has made the wager that Richter's work, in all its modes - from exquisitely realistic renderings to pure abstractions such as the 4900 Colours shown at the Serpentine last autumn - possesses a nebulous coherence. Düsseldorf, by contrast, invited Richter to explore abstract expressionism, dada collage and decollage, pop and radical varieties of "anti-art". 1 Sometimes paint is applied with brushes, but more often it is smeared, dabbed, rubbed, blotted, streaked, and dripped with house painting brushes, palette knives, squeegees, and … Abstract Painting (726) 1990 is a large-scale diptych by the German artist Gerhard Richter, comprising two joined sections of canvas and characterised by shimmering horizontal forms. ©2021 The Art Story Foundation. His deliberate lack of commitment to a single stylistic direction has often been read as an attack on the implicit ideologies embedded in the specific histories of painting. Richter employs thick brushstrokes and monochromatic color, thus sweeping across the canvas in a fluid, entirely fused motion. View Gerhard Richter’s 7,175 artworks on artnet. Looking at the abstract expressionist paintings there transformed him. "Hitler, soldiers, all that was for plebeians," he recalls, "whereas my mother always kept me close to 'culture'." In the lower region of the canvas, for instance, Richter suggests that the viewer is having a perceptual experience of looking through a window; nevertheless, the bold tracks, scrapes, smudges, and layerings of paint above playfully cancel that optical illusion. His subject matter was often derived from newspaper … He also worked as a painter of signs and stage sets, before being accepted into the Dresden art academy in 1950. As a play on the term social realism, the artists of the movement included Gerhard Richter of whom’s work the Lab currently features. Schopenhauer reprised Kant's theory, speaking of the world as mere "representation". When you are painting from photographs that are taken years ago, the appearance becomes a ghost." Richter's language echoes doubts about human knowledge that are as old as Plato's allegory of the cave. • Gerhard Richter Portraits is at the National Portrait Gallery, London WC2 (0844 579 1924), until 31 May. "Pictures which are interpretable and which have a meaning," he insists, "are bad pictures." Gerhard Richter, Cologne, 1984. Richter has described and demystified his method: he projects copies of photos on to canvas, traces them in pencil, then fills them out in paint. Richter was born in 1932 in Dresden. The painted picture was no longer credible; its representation froze into immobility, because it was not authentic but invented. Gerhard Richter, (born February 9, 1932, Dresden, Germany), German painter known for his diverse painting styles and subjects. Through his photo portraits he developed a "styleless" style - that is, a way to continue painting without capitulating to authority or asserting it himself. It is an idea that has haunted Gerhard Richter during a 50-year painting career that "officially began", as he tells it, with a photograph. But I don't know that. Richter has maintained a lifelong fascination for the power of images and painting's long, uneasy relationship with photography: while either medium may claim to reflect or express reality truthfully, either ultimately suggests only a partial, or incomplete view of a subject. These are the devotional gestures of a profound agnostic. Nietzsche, in whose work Richter immersed himself as a teenager, drove the process to its conclusion, doing away with essence all together. He is widely regarded as one of the most important contemporary German artists and several of his works have set record prices at auction. Gerhard Richter is one of Europe’s most influential post World War II painters and many contemporary artists in Australia have taken note of his work across genres as diverse as conceptual art, pop art, romantic landscape painting, realism and lyrical abstraction. But what makes this modern master tick is there for all to … It was Künstlerscheisse, he later complained - "artist-bullshit". "Illusion - or rather appearance, semblance - is the theme of my life," he quotes him as saying: "All that is, seems, and is visible to us because we perceive it by the reflected light of semblance." At an exhibition of daguerreotypes even earlier than the one attended by Délaroche, viewers are said to have turned away from the wraith-like portrait plates in terror. It has haunted him precisely because of how well he paints. Traumatised by his father's decline and by the disgrace of Nazi leadership, Richter gestures towards an alternative set of ancestors, representing them as they appeared in popular encyclopedias, rather than after the heraldic fashion of fascist art. His photoportraits make us conscious not only of the loss of reality in images, but also of the reality of loss that Richter, as a child of Germany's zero hour, had to confront. Writing for the catalogue of the 2002 Museum of Modern Art retrospective that cemented Richter's reputation, the curator Robert Storr described the artist's impulses in semi-religious terms: "doubt" and "belief". He was particularly put off by the cults of personality surrounding his contemporaries. The work suggests the artist viewing reality from a detached perspective, as he resists any moment of clear focus on the overall image. Often he begins by mechanically projecting such an image onto the canvas, a technique for thinking about how images often seem to have a life of their own, like mysterious ghosts haunting our psyche. November 22, 2009, By Sarah Douglas / According to legend, it was the painter Hippolyte Délaroche who, on seeing the first daguerrotypes exhibited in Paris in 1839, let out the notorious cry of despair La peinture est morte! Gerhard Richter is a contemporary German painter considered among the most influential living artists. In 1946, his father straggled home from a Russian prisoner-of-war camp, and was barred from teaching under the new de-Nazification laws. His schizophrenic aunt, Marianne, was murdered by the Nazis as part of their drive to euthanize the sick. Never having seen an image of a person separated from its "original", they were spooked. Photographs, particularly black and white, have often been viewed this way. His rejection of totalising political or artistic ideologies, and his suspicion of paternal authority, mirror his refusal to settle down to any one way of painting. The Weimar Republic was collapsing and the Nazis were taking power. The books and articles below constitute a bibliography of the sources used in the writing of this page. Gerhard Richter began his life in an age of totalitarian control. Yet it is clear his experiences growing up under two totalitarian regimes helped shape the commitment to "continual uncertainty" that characterises his aesthetics. He was born into a German family in the city of Dresden in 1932. Nor could he embrace the anti-art ideals of Beuys and the Fluxus group, which were deeply hostile to his form of studio practice. What kind of solution did photos offer? Alongside such artists as Manfred Kuttner, Sigmar Polke, and Konrad Lueg, Capital Realism was action and reaction to a Germany’s division between East and West. He has been through a lot of phases, constantly experimenting with different techniques. Jackson Pollock and Lucio Fontana, he later joked, were his "real reason for leaving the GDR". In 1959, he travelled to Kassell in West Germany to attend the second Documenta exhibition, which presented a wide range of modernist work. Mund is one of Richter's first paintings completed from a photograph. In 1960, he fled with his first wife, Ema, to Düsseldorf and enrolled in the city's art academy, where Joseph Beuys had just begun to teach. He has never fully abandoned the desire to paint "the things one sees and which exist" that was instilled in him during these years. The photo paintings of the 60s drew almost as a record, and thus as a commentary upon magazines, film stills, dusty family albums and newspaper clippings. Analysis After a Dip, the Market for Gerhard Richter’s Work Is Back on Solid Footing. By 1962 Richter "had had enough of bloody painting", when chance dropped a new "pretext" into his lap: a photo of French actress Brigitte Bardot. The New York Times / Eventually, however, the modernist freedoms driving him to "paint through the whole history of painting" brought him to an impasse. It also has more recent, specifically German, antecedents. It was important things or serious things. Das Potsdamer Museum Barberini zeigt in einer wunderbaren neuen Ausstellung mehr als neunzig Werke des Künstlers Gerhard Richter. Less than a week after his thirteenth birthday, Richter heard some 3,600 British and American planes drop more than half-a-million bombs on Dresden (he then lived just outside the city). That painting was dead or dying soon became a critical cliche, one repeated throughout the 20th century. The agnosticism, realised in the photoportraits, also applies to Richter's abstractions, or to the panes of glass and tinted mirrors for which he is famous. His subjects soon become ghosts, Selbstportrait (Self-portrait) by Gerhard Richter. There are two self-portraits from 1996 in which Richter, bled into a semi-transparent blear, looks down in the attitude of Dürer's Melancolia. Richter has produced abstract as well as photorealistic paintings, and also photographs and glass pieces. The final room in the exhibition contains more recent, colour paintings of Moritz, Richter's son by his third wife, Sabine. The pet simpering on his knee makes him all the more grotesque. Richter's terminology is more slippery than that codified by philosophers, yet his essays and interviews make it clear that he shares their concerns. In other cases, he scrapes into the drying portrait with a ruler or spatula. For this reason, among others, it is far better to paint a portrait from a photograph." I therefore neither plan nor invent; I add nothing and omit nothing. He incorporated it into the abstract canvas he was working on (now lost) and burned all his old work. Horst with Dog (1964), also in the show, is a photo portrait in black and white in which Richter's father, identified only by his first name, appears obscured by horizontal streaks like lines of TV static. Richter himself worked as a photographer's assistant developing photos when he was young (or so he has said). Blurred flesh tones hint at Richter's painting process, beginning with a realist rendering and incorporating rollers, squeegees, and dry brush techniques to mask the surface. Comments/Context: Gerhard Richter has often explored the border between painting and photography in his art, but his series of overpainted photographs has been largely overlooked until recently. The portraits at the National Portrait Gallery lack style in the sense that each has been copied from an automatic, mechanically reproducible medium. His efforts in … The sense that reality is unknowable (and, so, unrepresentable) reinforces the special relationship that Richter's paintings have with death. With a career spanning nearly six decades, Gerhard Richter is widely considered one of the greatest artists of our time. But it's my best option. “I like everything that has no style: dictionaries, photographs, nature, myself and my paintings,” he says. I can't understand the arrogance of someone saying, 'I have created a big, important work.'". Glossy Dreams Gerhard Richter, Breath (Atem), 1989, oil on canvas, 118 x 98 ⅛ in. In each of his styles, Richter compels us to consider the act of looking - he balances longing for something behind what is represented with an insistence that we can never know what is there. From the age of 16, he was determined to become a painter: his first art-related job involved producing communist banners. This family turmoil, coupled with the artist's early artistic training under postwar communist-driven ideology, eventually led Richter to seek his creative inspiration in nature over any political or religious affairs or philosophies. September 9, 2010, By Jerry Saltz / In this example of one of his early grey paintings, Richter allows structure and color to compose the "picture." The painting is void of figuration and recognizable imagery, revealing Richter's indifference toward any "model" as serving as his subject matter. Photography is not only a means of representation but also, as the late German novelist WG Sebald put it, "a way of making ghosts". In three varyingly abstracted versions of a single photograph - among the most intimate of Richter's numerous autobiographical images - the infant's wide eyes reflect the apprehension, as well as tenderness, of the parent beholding him. ", "I want to leave everything as it is. 48 Portraits is a pantheon of black and white headshots depicting male, mostly European, leaders in cultural and scientific fields - Alban Berg, Franz Kafka, Albert Einstein. Critics often quote Richter in his Notes 1964-65: "I like everything that has no style." In a series of completely abstract works of the early 1990s, Richter challenges the eye of the viewer to detect anything in the field of vision other than the pure elements of his art: color, gesture, the layering of pasty materials, and the artist's impersonal raking of these concoctions in various ways that allow chance combinations to emerge from the surface. “Because style … Yet the experience for the East-German born artist was key, as it spurred him on to develop and drive forward both figurative and abstract painting in a way few in the West could have achieved or even conceived. Paintings of Mustang bombers and Phantom Interceptors that Richter produced in the mid-60s, together with his aerial views of European cities in oils and lithographs, evoke the nights of February 1945, when Dresden (100km from Waltersdorf) burned under 4,000 tonnes of US explosives. Gerhard Richter Gerhard Richter to donate works for a room devoted to his art in new Berlin museum. Superficially reminiscent of the neo-Dadaist, 1950s "Hard Edge" abstraction of Ellsworth Kelly, Richter chooses here to systematically paint squares of colors based on the predetermined structure of the color wheel. For a time, he flourished. “I like everything that has no style: dictionaries, photographs, nature, myself and my paintings,” he says. This act of visual compression, in which photography, projection, and painting merge to make a finished art work, suggests that all vision is a kind of conversion of the "real" into the "imaginary.". 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