b. 1932, Germany

Gerhard Richter Biography

Gerhard Richter is an artist known for his diverse and innovative methods of painting that oscillate between realism and abstraction, and his use of photographic sources as the basis of his work.

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After graduating in 1956 from the Dresden Art Academy, where he trained as a painter, Richter painted murals in the state-dictated Socialist Realist aesthetic. In 1959, he visited II. documenta in Kassel and was impressed by the artwork of the Argentine-Italian artist Lucio Fontana and American painter Jackson Pollock. Drawn to the possibility of artistic freedom outside East Germany, he defected to West Germany in 1961 and enrolled in the Kunstakadmie Düsseldorf. There, he met artists Sigmar Polke and Blinky Palermo and future art dealer Konrad Lueg (later Konrad Fischer), whose shared interest in Pop art led them to found Capitalist Realism in 1963—a critique of both Socialist Realism and capitalism.

Richter's paintings from the 1960s are figurative and based on photographic images, a procedure that would continue with his later works. The oil painting Table (1962), for example, began as a realistic portrayal of a white designer table, but the artist was so dissatisfied with the result that he covered most of it in bold brush marks. Uncle Rudi (1965)—one of his most famous works—is based on a full-length photograph of his uncle in Wehrmacht uniform. While representational, the black-and-white painting was rendered with a blurring effect that makes it difficult to see the image with certainty.

In 1962 Richter began building his vast archive of images. The archive includes photographs taken by him or gathered elsewhere of family members, landscapes, still lifes; newspaper cuttings; and sketches for his paintings. In the early 1970s, he started exhibiting his archival images as works of art in their own right under the title 'Atlas'.

Richter's interest in the tension between photography and painting, and between realism and abstraction led him to experiment with a range of methods. For the large-scale diptych Abstract Painting (726), for example, he dragged a squeegee over the surface of the paint to smear it. Underneath the overall grey, however, shades of red, white, and orange hint at the possibility of an original, representational image. Other methods include painting directly over pictures, such as Self Portrait Standing, Three Times, 17.3.1991 (1991), for which the artist applied increasingly more paint on six identical images of himself standing in his studio, so that by the sixth image the original picture is practically invisible.

Richter continues to test the threshold between the figurative and the abstract. For 'Birkenau' (2014), a four-part abstract series based on the photographs secretly taken by Jewish prisoners at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in 1944, the artist made photographic renditions of the images and painted over them until they became unrecognisable.

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2019

Gerhard Richter Featured Artworks

I.G. by Gerhard Richter contemporary artwork painting
Gerhard Richter I.G., 1993 Oil on canvas
72 x 82.4 x 3.4 cm
Hauser & Wirth Enquire
Abstraktes Bild by Gerhard Richter contemporary artwork painting
Gerhard Richter Abstraktes Bild, 1997 Oil on canvas on wood
21 x 29.5 cm
Galerie Thomas Contact Gallery
Vermalung (Braun) by Gerhard Richter contemporary artwork painting
Gerhard Richter Vermalung (Braun), 1972 Oil on canvas
27 x 40 cm
Stern Pissarro Gallery Contact Gallery
Cage (P19-3) by Gerhard Richter contemporary artwork print
Gerhard Richter Cage (P19-3), 2020 Diasec-mounted Giclée print on aluminium composite panel
100 x 100 cm
Dellasposa Gallery Contact Gallery
VII. 91 by Gerhard Richter contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Gerhard Richter VII. 91, 1991 India ink on paper
9 1/2 x 13 inches
Galerie Thomas Contact Gallery
26.11.18 by Gerhard Richter contemporary artwork works on paper, drawing
Gerhard Richter 26.11.18, 2018 Graphite on paper
23 x 23 cm
Marian Goodman Gallery Contact Gallery
28.11.2018 (1) by Gerhard Richter contemporary artwork works on paper, drawing
Gerhard Richter 28.11.2018 (1), 2018 Graphite on paper
23 x 23 cm
Marian Goodman Gallery Contact Gallery
MV. 98 by Gerhard Richter contemporary artwork mixed media
Gerhard Richter MV. 98, 2011 Lacquer on colour photograph
10 x 15 cm
Gagosian Contact Gallery

Gerhard Richter Recent Exhibitions

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Gerhard Richter Represented By

Marian Goodman Gallery contemporary art gallery in New York, USA Marian Goodman Gallery London, New York, Paris

Gerhard Richter In Ocula Magazine

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In Ocula Advisory

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Gerhard Richter In Related Press

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