Protean-rich Richter

Richter seascape

Image: Gerhard Richter, “Seascape”

“The cataloguing of the art of Gerhard Richter (born 1932) has reached the years 1968-76. By this time an established international artist and leading teacher, he began to move away from the collective group activities of his early years. The period was also when Richter started painting series in different styles in fairly quick cycles. Blurred black and white photo paintings were superseded by colour variants, often with landscapes as subjects. At the same time, he was formulating abstract paintings of colour charts, painterly multicolour works and monochrome pieces. Fortunately for the reader, the paintings are listed in their different series as groups, so the sequence of images is not bewilderingly various.

“Gerhard Richter: Catalogue Raisonné Volume 2shows Richter at his most Romantic and most austerely modern. Colour paintings of clouds, seascapes and landscapes are mostly derived from his own photographs. They are contemporary Romantic landscapes: plangent, attractive, absent of figures. Sometimes single compositions are combinations of different photographs. The landscapes are flat and resist any Romantic immersion of the viewer in an environment. They are not picture-postcard pretty, but landscapes as seen from car or train window or viewed from a hotel balcony. The paintings have the disappointment of holiday photographs that fail to capture majestic panoramas and instead produce something lacking energy, depth and intensity. In that sense, these are landscapes of the snapshot generation. This is not a failure on Richter’s part but a deliberate choice and an intelligent one.

“Richter engaged with the Old Masters by painting versions of Titian’s Annunciation, obscuring the Virgin and angel under a queasy flurry of brushmarks. In later years, he approached Old Masters indirectly by lifting poses and echoing compositions…”

Read the full review online at The Art Newspaper, 30 August 2017 here:

http://theartnewspaper.com/review/protean-rich-on-the-gerhard-richter-catalogue-raisonne

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Gerhard Richter, various books

“Saint Gerhard

“The prerequisites for sainthood are association with two miracles and being dead. German artist Gerhard Richter (b1932, Dresden) is far from dead; he is the world’s most feted living artist, still prolific and innovating. He is credited with the secular miracle of giving painting continued intellectual credibility in the postmodern age. No living artist is more highly valued or venerated.

“Richter is known principally for three groups of work, all postdating his 1961 departure from the GDR: since 1962, paintings of photographs (subject to blurring); grids of colour swatches based on domestic-paint charts; and, after 1987, abstract paintings generated by layering paint using flat-bladed wipers. His classic photo paintings have achieved a degree of acclaim not accorded those by photorealists. Although a painter, his work has been considered conceptual in attitude. His 48 Portraits (1971–2) were painted from encyclopaedia portrait photographs, and he then exhibited photographs of his paintings. He is also seen as an upholder of the figurative tradition. Richter is a contemporary history painter, although he is uncomfortable being so cast…”

Read the full review originally in THE ART BOOK, 19 January 2010 here:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-8357.2010.01070.x/full