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gerhard richter
Gerhard Richter


ab·stract art

Noun
Art that does not attempt to represent external, recognizable reality but seeks to achieve its effect using shapes, forms, colors, and textures.


Biography:

Gerhard Richter was born in Dresden, Germany, in 1932. He grew up in the countryside, in Reichenau (1935) and Waltersdorf (1942) in Saxony's Oberlausitz. His mother was the daughter of a concert pianist. She encouraged her son's artistic interests. His father was a local school teacher and a member of the NSDAP who lost his job after the war (in which he had served). Gerhard lived his first thirteen years under National Socialism. Two of his uncles died in action, his mentally disabled aunt was killed a part of the Nazi euthanasia program.

After the war, Gerhard lived for sixteen years under East German Communism. In 1948, he left school after tenth grade with a certificate of graduation. He was apprenticed as an advertising and stage-set painter in the town of Zittau. In 1950, he applied to Dresden Art Academy but was rejected. In 1951, he painted political banners for state-owned businesses. In 1952, he reapplied for Dresden Art Academy and was accepted to the "free painting" class. He studied there for four years, during the final year in the mural painting class.

In 1955, Richter had the chance to tour West Germany and to travel for a week to Paris. The following year, he painted a mural at the German Hygiene Museum in Dresden as his graduation project upon which he became a master student and was given a studio at the academy for three years.

In 1957, Richter married Marianne Eufinger. They traveled to West Germany on their honeymoon. Two years later, Richter obtained the permission to visit the Documenta 2 exhibition at Kassel in West Germany where he discovered Abstract Expressionism and Art Informel.

In 1961, Richter traveled to Moscow and Leningrad. On his return trip, the train stopped unexpectedly in West Berlin where he deposited his luggage. Back in Dresden, he asked a friend to drive him and his wife to East Berlin from where they traveled by subway to West Berlin, pretending to be day-trippers. The Berlin Wall was built in August 1961.

Richter moved to Düsseldorf where he was accepted into the class of Ferdinand Macketanz at Düsseldorf Art Academy (Kunstakademie) where Joseph Beuys was a young professor (in 1971 they became colleagues). Richter studied for two years with Karl Otto Götz. At the academy, he met artists like Konrad Lueg (later Konrad Fischer), Sigmar Polke and Blinky Palermo. Richter was influenced by Jean Dubuffet, Alberto Giacometti, Jean Fautrier and the anarchic Fluxus movement, a resurgence of Dada. Richter painted works intitled Wound and Scar and began a photo album of his early work.

In September 1962, Richter's first exhibition in West Germany was organized at Galerie Junge Kunst in Fulda. The catalogue listed thirty-seven paintings, all dated 1962, most of which were destroyed by the artist later that year. Richer also showed forty-nine drawings. Also in 1962, Richter abandoned Art Informel and painted his first photo-based paintings, using a projector.

In 1963, Richter and Lueg traveled to Paris where they saw Yves Klein's work - the artist had died the year before at the age of thiry-four - at Galérie Iris Clert and introduced themselves to art dealer Ileana Sonnabend as German Pop artists. Richter was part of an exhibition in Düsseldorf, partly labeled Capitalist Realism, a term which showed up again later. Richter never intended it to be a political movement despite its allusion to Socialist Realism and its aesthetic dogmas. Capitalist Realism can be interpreted as a satirical term and a substitute for the label Pop.

In 1964, Richter had his first solo-exhibition, Gerhard Richter, at Galerie Schmela in Düsseldorf. The following year, he created his first muliple, Hund [Dog], in an edition of eight. In 1966, he began to work on Color Charts, exhibited the same year at Galerie Friedrich and Dahlem in Munich. It was also the year of birth of his daughter Babette. In March, Richter and Polke exhibited together at Galerie h in Hannover, which was by the way the first major presentation of Polke's work.

In 1967, Gerhard Richter became a visiting professor at the Hochschule für bildende Künste in Hamburg and was awarded the art prize "Junger Westen" by the German city of Recklinghausen. The same year, he created Gray paintings. In 1968, Richter painted townscapes, landscapes and shadow paintings.

In 1969 Richter reviewed material collected throughout the 1960s and began to assemble pieces for Atlas, an ongoing compilation of photographs, clippings and sketches. He published the multiple Bilderverzeichnis and, in May-June, had his first New York appearance in the exhibition Nine Young Artists: Theodoron Awards at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

In 1970, Richter and Palermo traveled to New York. Gerhard made Seascapes, Clouds and Gray paintings. In Cologne, he was one of some seventy artists represented in the exhibition Now: Today's Arts in Germany [Jetzt: Künste in Deutschland heute] at Kunsthalle Köln.

There were many exhibitions from 1970 to the present day. The early 1970s were a time in which he painted monochromes that evoked mainstream minimalism, but had a different intent and feeling.

In 1971, Richter became tenured professor at Düsseldorf Art Academy. In 1973, he had his first one-person exhibition in New York at Reinhard Onnasch Gallery. In 1977, he began to paint watercolors; these are related to his Abstract Pictures. The same year, he withdrew his paintings from the opening exhibition Documenta 6 at Kassel on the opening day because of last-minute rearrangements of the painting section. In 1978, Richter taught for one semester as visiting professor at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax.

In 1983, Richter moved from Düsseldorf to Cologne. The following year, he began to work again in watercolors, which he had stopped in 1978. Still in 1984, he had his first exhibition of watercolors at Galerie Thomas Borgmann in Cologne. Since the late 1980s, his work has oscillated between photo-based pictures and abstractions.

In 1987, a selection of Richter's notes was published for the first time on the occasion of an exhibition in Amsterdam. In 1993, his writings were published in German as Gerhard Richter: Texte, edited by Hans-Ulrich Obrist. The English version followed in 1995. In 1996, Richter moved to a new home and studio and his daughter Ella Maria was born. At the Venice Biennale in 1997, Gerhard Richter was awarded the Golden Lion.

Richter is by many considered a "conceptual painter" whose "paintings are statements about ideas for paintings". Richter himself said that he wanted to express "the inadequacy in relation to what is expected of painting" through his art, the inadequacy of the making of images and the critical examination of it. He is considered a master of "deconstruction" of formal conventions of painting. He kept a "skeptical distance from vanguardists and conservatives alike regarding what painting should be". According to Storr, all of Richter's works point toward "the basic loss of bearings"; he is "an image-struck poet of alertness and restraint, of doubt and daring". Whatever your interpretation of Gerhard Richter's oeuvre may be, he is a major contemporary artist.





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