BAGDAD 1 (P9) 2014
BAGDAD 2 (P10) 2014
ALADIN (P11) 2014
VICTORIA I 1986 VICTORIA II 1986
HAGGADAH (P2) 2014
FAZ - OverPainted (CR:122) 2002
Snow White (CR:132) 2005
BOUQUET (P3) 2013
Gerhard Richter - Biography
Gerhard Richter is a contemporary German painter
considered among the most influential artists from the latter half of the 20th century. Richter’s experiments with abstraction and photo-based painting greatly contributed to the history of the medium. Culling from his vast image archive known as the Atlas, Richter’s paintings reference images of his daughter Betty, flickering candles, aerial photographs, portraits of criminals, and pastoral landscapes. “Pictures are the idea in visual or pictorial form,” he reflected. “And the idea has to be legible, both in the individual picture and in the collective context—which presupposes, of course, that words are used to convey information about the idea and the context. However, none of this means that pictures function as illustrations of an idea: ultimately, they are the idea.” Born on February 9, 1932 in Dresden, Germany during the rise of the Nazi regime, many of the artist’s relatives where in some way involved with the party. After World War II, living under Soviet rule, Richter attended school where he learned to produce of Socialist Realist murals. In 1961, Richter fled to West Germany, where he studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf alongside Sigmar Polke. During this time, the artist first began producing blurred photo-paintings, exploring the conflicting nature of an image’s aesthetics in relation to its content. Over the following decades, Richter introduced abstraction to his repertoire, analyzing painterly expression through a technique of squeegeeing large swathes of paint over canvases. In 2012, the artist set a record auction price for a painting sold by a living artist with his Abstraktes Bild (809-4) (1994) at $34 million, he would break this record again, first in 2013 when the painting Domplatz, Mailand (Cathedral square, Milan) (1968) went for $37.1 million, followed in 2015 by the sale of Abstraktes Bild (1986) for $44.52 million. Richter currently lives and works in Cologne, Germany. Today, his works are held in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Gallery in London, and the Albertina in Vienna, among others.
Childhood and education
Richter was born in Hospital Dresden-Neustadt inDresden, Saxony, and grew up in Reichenau, Lower Silesia (now Bogatynia, Poland), and in Waltersdorf (Zittauer Gebirge), in the Upper Lusatian countryside, where his father worked as a village teacher. Gerhard's mother, Hildegard Schönfelder, at the age of 25 gave birth to Gerhard. Hildegard's father, Ernst Alfred Schönfelder, at one time was considered a gifted pianist. Ernst moved the family to Dresden after taking up the family enterprise of brewing and eventually went bankrupt. Once in Dresden, Hildegard trained as a bookseller, and in doing so realized a passion for literature and music. Gerhard's father, Horst Richter, was a mathematics and physics student at the Technische Hochschule in Dresden. The two were married in 1931.
After struggling to maintain a position in the new Nationalist Socialist education system, Horst found a position in Reichenau. In Reichenau, Gerhard's younger sister, Gisela was born in November 1936. Horst and Hildegard were able to remain primarily apolitical due to Reichenau's location in the countryside. Horst, being a teacher, was eventually forced to join the National Socialist Party. He never became an avid supporter of Nazism, and was not required to attend party rallies. In 1942, Gerhard was conscripted into the Deutsches Jungvolk, but by the end of the war he was still too young to be an official member of the Hitler Youth. In 1943 Hildegard moved the family to Waltersdorf, and was later forced to sell her piano. He left school after 10th grade and apprenticed as an advertising and stage-set painter, before studying at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts. In 1948, he finished higher professional school in Zittau, and, between 1949 and 1951, successively worked as an apprentice with a sign painter and as a painter. In 1950, his application for study at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts was rejected as "too bourgeois". He finally began his studies at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts in 1951. His teachers were Karl von Appen, Heinz Lohmar (de) and Will Grohmann.
Richter married Marianne Eufinger in 1957; she gave birth to his first daughter. He married his second wife, the sculptor Isa Genzken, in 1982. Richter had two sons and daughter with his third wife, Sabine Moritz after they were married in 1995.
In the early days of his career, he prepared a wall painting (Communion with Picasso, 1955) for the refectory of his Academy of Arts as part of his B.A. Another mural entitled Lebensfreude (Joy of life) followed at the German Hygiene Museum for his diploma. It was intended to produce an effect "similar to that of wallpaper or tapestry".
Both paintings were painted over for ideological reasons after Richter escaped from East to West Germany two months before the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961. After German reunification two "windows" of the wall painting Joy of life (1956) were uncovered in the stairway of the German Hygiene Museum, but these were later covered over when it was decided to restore the Museum to its original 1930 state. From 1957 to 1961 Richter worked as a master trainee in the academy and took commissions for the then state of East Germany. During this time, he worked intensively on murals like Arbeiterkampf (Workers' struggle), on oil paintings (e.g. portraits of the East German actress Angelica Domröse and of Richter's first wife Ema), on various self-portraits and on a panorama of Dresden with the neutral name Stadtbild (Townscape, 1956).
When he escaped to West Germany, Richter began to study at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf under Karl Otto Götz together with Sigmar Polke,Werner Hilsing, HA Schult, Kuno Gonschior, Hans Erhard Walther, Konrad Lueg and Gotthard Graubner. With Polke and Konrad Fischer (de) (pseudonym Lueg) he introduced the term Kapitalistischer Realismus (Capitalistic Realism) as an anti-style of art, appropriating the pictorial shorthand of advertising. This title also referred to the realist style of art known as Socialist Realism, then the official art doctrine of the Soviet Union, but it also commented upon the consumer-driven art doctrine of western capitalism.
Richter taught at the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design as a visiting professor; he returned to the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in 1971, where he was a professor for over 15 years.
In 1983, Richter resettled from Düsseldorf to Cologne, where he still lives and works today. In 1996, he moved into a studio designed by architect Thiess Marwede
Nearly all of Richter's work demonstrates both illusionistic space that seems natural and the physical activity and material of painting—as mutual interferences. For Richter, reality is the combination of new attempts to understand—to represent; in his case, to paint—the world surrounding us. Richter's opinions and perspectives on his own art, and that of the larger art market and various artistic movements, are compiled in a chronological record of "Writings" and interviews. The following quotes are excerpts from the compilation:
"I am a Surrealist.
"My sole concern is the object. Otherwise I would not take so much trouble over my choice of subjects; otherwise I would not paint at all."[
"My concern is never art, but always what art can be used for."
Photo-paintings and the "blur"
Richter created various painting pictures from black-and-white photographs during the 1960s and early 1970s, basing them on a variety of sources: newspapers and books, sometimes incorporating their captions, (as in Helga Matura (1966)); private snapshots; aerial views of towns and mountains, (Cityscape Madrid (1968) and Alps (1968)); seascapes (1969–70); and a large multi-partite work made for the German Pavilion in the 1972 Venice Biennale. For Forty-eight Portraits (1971–2), he chose mainly the faces of composers such as Gustav Mahler and Jean Sibelius, and of writers such as H. G. Wells and Franz Kafka.
From his "Writings", the following refer to quotations regarding photography, its relationship with painting, and the "blur":
"The photograph is the most perfect picture. It does not change; it is absolute, and therefore autonomous, unconditional, devoid of style. Both in its ways of informing, and in what it informs of, it is my source."[
"I don't create blurs. Blurring is not the most important thing; nor is it an identity tag for my pictures. When I dissolve demarcations and create transition, this is not in order to destroy the representation, or to make it more artistic or less precise. The flowing transitions, the smooth equalizing surface, clarify the content and make the representation credible (an "alla prima" impasto would be too reminiscent of painting, and would destroy the illusion)."
"I blur things to make everything equally important and equally unimportant. I blur things so that they do not look artistic or craftsmanlike but technological, smooth and perfect. I blur things to make all the parts a closer fit. Perhaps I also blur out the excess of unimportant information."
Many of these paintings are made in a multi-step process of representations. He starts with a photograph, which he has found or taken himself, and projects it onto his canvas, where he traces it for exact form. Taking his color palette from the photograph, he paints to replicate the look of the original picture. His hallmark "blur" is achieved sometimes with a light touch of a soft brush, sometimes a hard smear by an aggressive pull with a squeegee.
From around 1964, Richter made a number of portraits of dealers, collectors, artists and others connected with his immediate professional circle. Richter's two portraits of Betty, his daughter, were made in 1977 and 1988 respectively; the three portraits titled IG were made in 1993 and depict the artist's second wife, Isa Genzken. Lesende (1994) portrays Sabine Moritz, whom Richter married in 1995, shown absorbed in the pages of a magazine. Many of his realist paintings reflect on the history of National Socialism, creating paintings of family members who had been members, as well as victims of, the Nazi party. From 1966, as well as those given to him by others, Richter began using photographs he had taken as the basis for portraits. In 1975, on the occasion of a show in Düsseldorf, Gilbert & George commissioned Richter to make a portrait of them.
Richter began making prints in 1965. He was most active before 1974, only completing sporadic projects since that time. In the period 1965–74, Richter made most of his prints (more than 100), of the same or similar subjects in his paintings. He has explored a variety of photographic printmaking processes – screenprint, photolithography, and collotype – in search of inexpensive mediums that would lend a "non-art" appearance to his work. He stopped working in print media in 1974, and began painting from photographs he took himself.[
While elements of landscape painting appeared initially in Richter's work early on in his career in 1963, the artist began his independent series of landscapes in 1968 after his first vacation, an excursion that landed him besotted with the terrain of Corsica. Landscapes have since emerged as an independent work group in his oeuvre. According to Dietmar Elger, Richter's landscapes are understood within the context of traditional of German Romantic Painting. They are compared to the work of Caspar David Friedrich (1774–1840). Friedrich is foundational to German landscape painting. Each artist spent formative years of their lives in Dresden. Große Teyde-Landschaft (1971) takes its imagery from similar holiday snapshots of the volcanic regions of Tenerife.
Atlas was first exhibited in 1972 at the Museum voor Hedendaagse Kunst in Utrecht under the title Atlas der Fotos und Skizzen, it included 315 parts. The work has continued to expand, and was exhibited later in full form at the Lenbachhaus in Munich in 1989, the Museum Ludwig in Cologne in 1990, and at Dia Art Foundation in New York in 1995. Atlas continues as an ongoing, encyclopedic work composed of approximately 4,000 photographs,
Coming full-circle from his early Table (1962) in which he cancelled his photorealist image with haptic swirls of grey paint, in 1969, Richter produced the first of a group of grey monochromes that consist exclusively of the textures resulting from different methods of paint application.
In 1976, Richter first gave the title Abstract Painting to one of his works. By presenting a painting without even a few words to name and explain it, he felt he was "letting a thing come, rather than creating it." In his abstract pictures, Richter builds up cumulative layers of non-representational painting, beginning with brushing big swaths of primary color onto canvas. The paintings evolve in stages, based on his responses to the picture's progress: the incidental details and patterns that emerge. Throughout his process, Richter uses the same techniques he uses in his representational paintings, blurring and scraping to veil and expose prior layers.
From the mid-1980s, Richter began to use a homemade squeegee to rub and scrape the paint that he had applied in large bands across his canvases. In an interview with Benjamin H.D. Buchloch in 1986, Richter was asked about his "Monochrome Grey Pictures and Abstract Pictures" and their connection with the artists Yves Klein and Ellsworth Kelly. The following are Richter's answers:
The Grey Pictures were done at a time when there were monochrome paintings everywhere. I painted them nonetheless. ... Not Kelly, but Bob Ryman, Brice Marden, Alan Charlton, Yves Klein and many others.
In the 1990s the artist began to run his squeegee up and down the canvas in an ordered fashion to produce vertical columns that take on the look of a wall of planks.
Richter's abstract work and its illusion of space developed out of his incidental process: an accumulation of spontaneous, reactive gestures of adding, moving, and subtracting paint. Despite unnatural palettes, spaceless sheets of color, and obvious trails of the artist's tools, the abstract pictures often act like windows through which we see the landscape outside. As in his representational paintings, there is an equalization of illusion and paint. In those paintings, he reduces worldly images to mere incidents of Art. Similarly, in his abstract pictures, Richter exalts spontaneous, intuitive mark-making to a level of spatial logic and believability.
Firenze continues a cycle of 99 works conceived in the autumn of 1999 and executed in the same year and thereafter. The series of overpainted photographs, or übermalte Photographien, consists of small paintings bearing images of the city of Florence, created by the artist as a tribute to the music of Steve Reich and the work of Contempoartensemble, a Florence-based group of musicians.
After 2000, Richter made a number of works that dealt with scientific phenomena, in particular, with aspects of reality that cannot be seen by the naked eye. In 2006, Richter conceived six paintings as a coherent group under the title Cage, named after the American avant-garde composer John Cage. In May 2002, Richter photographed 216 details of his abstract painting no. 648-2, from 1987. Working on a long table over a period of several weeks, Richter combined these 10 x 15 cm details with 165 texts on the Iraq war, published in the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper on 20 and 21 March. This work was published in 2004 as a book entitled War Cut.
In November 2008, Richter began a series in which he applied ink droplets to wet paper, using alcohol and lacquer to extend and retard the ink's natural tendency to bloom and creep. The resulting November sheets are regarded as a significant departure from his previous watercolours in that the pervasive soaking of ink into wet paper produced double-sided works. Sometimes the uppermost sheets bled into others, generating a sequentially developing series of images. In a few cases Richter applied lacquer to one side of the sheet, or drew pencil lines across the patches of colour.