Gerhard Richter (b.1932, Germany)
June. Oil on canvas, 250x250 cm (1983)
September. Oil on canvas, 52x72 cm (2005)
“I pursue no objectives, no system, no tendency; I have no programme, no style, no concern. I like continual uncertainty.” The exhibition “Panorama” at the Centre Pompidou demonstrates how German painter Gerhard Richter was able to reinvent himself by reinventing the history of art itself from the beginning of the 1960s to the present day. From “photo-paintings” to abstraction, from grisaille and monochrome works to coloured charts, he reinterpreted the genres of history of art: portraits, history paintings and landscapes.
Gerhard Richter - Reader. Oil on canvas, 72x102 cm (1994)
“Reader” paints the protrait of Richter’s young wife Sabine Moritz studying a news magazine under an artificial light. Inspired by Vermeer’s Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window (1657-59), the painting illustrates how Richter fades the boundary between painting and photography and goes beyond the realism with the blurred effect.
Gerhard Richter - Betty. Oil on canvas, 102x72 cm (1988)
In 1988, Richter launched a new phase in his attitude towards portraits, starting with the portrait of his daughter Betty, highly contrasts with the violent theme of his 18 October 1977 series. During his career, the artist has made numerous portraits of his close relatives: “I have often painted my family, they are individuals that touch me the most.” (+)
Gerhard Richter - 18 October 1977. Oil on canvas (1988)
The 18 October 1977 series, composed by fifteen paintings, refers to the date of death of the leaders of the revolutionary Baader-Meinhof group in Stammhein prison and describes a series of events that took place over a longer period: the arrests, deaths and funerals of the founder members of the RAF. Richter wishes to release the spectacular nature of the event, expresses therefore the timeless universal sentiment.
Gerhard Richter - Tourist (with 2 Lions). Oil on canvas, 190x230 cm (1975)
Richter would often blur his subjects in order to show the impossibility of any artist conveying the full truth of a subject in its original condition. From 1975, Richter’s painting is so blurred that it will strike most viewers as entirely abstract, prompt them to squint and pick out the safari-goer being ripped apart. “I blur to make everything equal, everything equally important and equally unimportant.” (+)
Gerhard Richter - Seascape (Sea-Sea). Oil on canvas, 200x200 cm (1970)
German painter Gerhard Richter, whose approach to art is classical, has maintained a lifelong fascination for the new relationships between paintings and photography. His pictures, painted from his own photographs or from press pictures, were imbued with a strict expressive neutrality. With his large canvases representing landscapes, mountains, clouds and seascapes, he has established himself as a worthy heir to the German Romantic tradition.