Saturday, March 1, 2014

Gerhard Richter

"Art is the highest form of hope" - Gerhard Richter

Having viewed one of  his works in the Centre Pompidou recently, I was excited to learn that I recognized the name of the second highest earning living artist at auction--Gerhard Richter. I chose Richter because his art is very intriguing. It appears his works span a great spectrum and there is little to be said to tie them together, but I wanted to study his works a little more closely to see if I could find a connection. 

Richter was born in 1932 in Dresden. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts under Karl Otto Götz. Although trying out some performance art, he considered himself to be a painter and used photographs as a starting point in most of his pieces. 

For example, in 1024 Colours No 350-3, Richter reduces painting to a bare minimum, its "elemental physical existence". All that is left in this painting, although based on an already existed color chart, is the "naked physical presence of colour as the essential material of all painting" (Grisebach). 

Richter, Gerhard. 1024 Colours No 350-3. 1973. Centre Pompidou. 
Source: Personal photo

In the late 70s, one notices a shift in Richter's work toward the more abstract. He maintains a vivid color palette as well as the idea that his work is copied from a photograph. Here is an example of one of these paintings:

Richter, Gerhard. 2.1.1978 (22). 1978. Kunstmuseum Winterthur. 

In May 2013, his 1968 work, Domplatz, Mailand, sold for 37.1 million dollars at Sotheby's in New York. Richter held this record for another six months until Koon's took the record with his Balloon Dog sold at Christie's for 58.4 million. 

Richter, Gerhard. Domplatz, Mailand. 1968. Don Bryant. 

From my research I found that my original perceptions of Richter were right--his work does span a great number of mediums. This is, however, his goal. He does not want to be tied down as an artist with one particular style, but instead, following in the footsteps of Arp and Picasso, wants to test out abstraction in many different styles. Although this approach has often been criticized, he stands firmly by the idea that this was a conscious choice that allowed him to deeply and freely investigate all there is to painting. 

The following images come from the book I discovered in Lilly Library that highlight some of Richter's drawings. 

Richter, Gerhard. E. with Child (recto). 1967. 

Richter, Gerhard. Study for the Presentation of 'Grey Pictures'. 1975. 


Lucius Grisebach"Richter, Gerhard." Grove Art OnlineOxford Art OnlineOxford University Press.Web1 March 2014.

Gerhard Richter. 2014. Web. 1 March 2014. 

Schwarz, Dieter. Gerhard Richter: dessins et aquarelles. Paris: Musée du Louvre Éditions, 2012. Print. 

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