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The Art Story Homepage Artists Gerhard Richter
Gerhard Richter Photo

Gerhard Richter

German Painter

Movements and Styles: Pop Art, Postmodernism

Born: February 9, 1932 - Dresden, Germany

Gerhard Richter Timeline

"What I'm attempting in each picture is nothing other than this...to bring together in a living and viable way, the most different and the most contradictory elements in the greatest possible freedom."

Gerhard Richter Signature

Summary of Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter is a German painter who originally trained in a realist style and later developed an appreciation for the more progressive work of his American and European contemporaries. Richter increasingly employed his own painting as a means for exploring how images that appear to capture "truth" often prove, on extended viewing, far less objective, or unsure in meaning, than originally assumed. The other common themes in his work are the elements of chance, and the play between realism and abstraction. Working alongside but never fully embracing a quick succession of late-20th-century art movements, such as Abstract Expressionism, American/British Pop art, Minimalism, and Conceptualism, Richter has absorbed many of their ideas while remaining skeptical of all grand artistic and philosophical credos.

Key Ideas

Richter has maintained a lifelong fascination for the power of images and painting's long, uneasy relationship with photography: while either medium may claim to reflect or express reality truthfully, either ultimately suggests only a partial, or incomplete view of a subject.
Richter borrows much of his painted imagery from newspapers, or even his own family albums. Often he begins by mechanically projecting such an image onto the canvas, a technique for thinking about how images often seem to have a life of their own, like mysterious ghosts haunting our psyche. This act of visual compression, in which photography, projection, and painting merge to make a finished art work, suggests that all vision is a kind of conversion of the "real" into the "imaginary."
Richter would often blur his subjects and embrace chance effects in his own painting process in order to show the impossibility of any artist conveying the full truth of a subject in its original condition. Such means for suggesting that something essential to the model has been "lost in translation" often leads a viewer's attention to the oil pigment's dense, material nature, thereby demonstrating both its expressive strengths and shortcomings.
In Richter's completely abstract canvases, personal emotion and all traces of the painter's autobiography seem missing. The painting's many layers, strokes, and scrapes of color may thus appear as "beautiful" as anything found in nature that came into existence partly according to a predetermined structure (such as DNA), as well as by way of unpredictable occasions of pure chance and the action of outside forces.
Gerhard Richter Photo

Gerhard Richter was born in 1932 in Dresden, Germany, during the rise of the National Socialist German Workers' Party, or the Nazi Third Reich. Notably, some of Richter's relatives were directly involved in the Nazi movement, namely his father, a schoolteacher, and an uncle. Richter's mother, the daughter of a concert pianist, encouraged her son's early talent for draftsmanship. In 1948, at the age of 16, Richter quit his formal education and took up an apprenticeship as a set painter for the theater. The wake of war proved traumatic for Richter: two of his uncles had been killed in action, and his father had lost his employment. This family turmoil, coupled with the artist's early artistic training under postwar communist-driven ideology, eventually led Richter to seek his creative inspiration in nature over any political or religious affairs or philosophies.

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Gerhard Richter
Interactive chart with Gerhard Richter's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
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Artists

Max BeckmannMax Beckmann
Jackson PollockJackson Pollock
Lucio FontanaLucio Fontana
Robert RauschenbergRobert Rauschenberg
Andy WarholAndy Warhol

Personal Contacts

Joseph BeuysJoseph Beuys
Georg BaselitzGeorg Baselitz
Sigmar PolkeSigmar Polke
Konrad Fischer-LuegKonrad Fischer-Lueg

Movements

Pop ArtPop Art
Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism
FluxusFluxus
DadaDada
Influences on Artist
Influences on Artist
Gerhard Richter
Gerhard Richter
Years Worked: 1951 - Present
Influenced by Artist
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Christopher WoolChristopher Wool
Ellsworth KellyEllsworth Kelly

Personal Contacts

Sigmar PolkeSigmar Polke
Blinky PalermoBlinky Palermo
Robert StorrRobert Storr

Movements

Conceptual ArtConceptual Art
MinimalismMinimalism

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Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Larissa Borteh

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Larissa Borteh
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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First published on 22 Jan 2012. Updated and modified regularly. Information
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