Gerhard Richter

b. 1932
2 artworks
In 11 collections on Artscapy
£12,800 — £23,000

Biography

Born in Dresden, Germany, in 1932, Gerhard Richter has spent his career exploring the delicate balance between painting and photography, intrigued by how these mediums interact and confront each other. His work spans from the vibrant use of a squeegee on canvases and sharply defined color charts to photorealistic paintings and magnified brushstroke details. Richter navigates these mediums with ease, delving into their intertwined complexities without prioritising one over the other.

Richter's life mirrors the tumultuous events of the 20th century, with his art echoing the shadows of National Socialism and the Holocaust. After WWII, Richter initially adopted the Socialist Realist style promoted by East Germany's Communist regime. His defection to West Germany in 1961, just before the construction of the Berlin Wall, marked a turning point, leaving behind his early works. At the Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where he studied from 1961 to 1964 alongside Blinky Palermo and Sigmar Polke, Richter began to experiment with painting freed from ideological constraints.

In Düsseldorf, Richter's work was initially inspired by contemporary events and popular culture, drawing on magazine and newspaper images. Through the 1960s, his focus extended to found and mass-media imagery, including military jets, portraits, and landscapes. His work from this period includes reinterpretations of family photos brought from East Germany, such as one of his uncle in a Nazi uniform and another of his aunt, a victim of the Nazi regime. Richter's signature blurring technique introduces a sense of ambiguity to these pieces, questioning painting's capacity to document reality as photography does.

By 1967, Richter received the Junger Western art prize and further developed his series of Color Charts and Gray Paintings, exploring gray's tonal and conceptual depth. In 1972, his representation of West Germany at the Venice Biennale, coupled with his participation in Documenta, solidified his standing in the art world.

Over six decades, Richter has critically engaged with photographic imagery, manipulating and recontextualizing it within his vast archival project, Atlas. He confronts unrepresentable aspects of recent history, including the 2001 terrorist attacks and the Holocaust, through his work.

Balancing on the intersection of painting and photography, Richter's oeuvre includes an expansive range of subjects and techniques. His 2020 retrospective, Painting After All, at the Met Breuer in New York, showcased his enduring inquiry into the essence of representation and perception, marked by a continuous sense of inquiry and skepticism.

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