Gerhard Richter: Forty Years of Painting

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9780870703577: Gerhard Richter: Forty Years of Painting

Ranging from photo-based pictures to gestural abstraction, Gerhard Richter's diverse body of work calls into question many widely held attitudes about the inherent importance of stylistic consistency, the inaturali evolution of individual artistic sensibility, the spontaneous component of creativity, and the relationship of technological means and mass media imagery to traditional studio methods and formats. Unlike many of his peers, he has explored these issues through the medium of painting, challenging it to meet the demands posed by new forms of conceptual art. In every level of his varied output--from his austere photo-based realism of the early 60s, to his brightly colored gestural abstractions of the early 80s, to his startling cycle of black-and-white paintings of the Baader-Meinhof group--Richter has assumed a critical distance from vanguardists and conservatives alike regarding what painting should be. The result has been among the most convincing renewal of painting's vitality to be found in late 20th- and early 21st-century art. With an extensive and insightful critical essay by curator Robert Storr, a recent interview with the artist, a chronology, an exhibition history, and nearly 300 color and duotone reproductions, Gerhard Richter: Forty Years of Painting marks a significant contribution to the understanding of contemporary art in general, and Gerhard Richter in particular.

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Review:

The beautiful catalog Gerhard Richter: Forty Years of Painting accompanies the Museum of Modern Art's retrospective of this prolific and important German artist. Richter's many artistic achievements vacillate between pure abstraction and a kind of realism. His realistic paintings, based primarily on personal photographs and images from newspapers, range in subject matter from the banal, like rolls of toilet paper, to the extremely potent, such as famous Nazi "doctor" Werner Hyde. The paintings have in common an emotional remove; the re-creating of photographic images points us toward our own possible emotional detachment to the influx of images in the world. A blurred chair, Jackie Kennedy, burning candles, family portraits--Richter lays them all out before us as if to say, Here, they are all the same. The insightful text by MoMA curator Robert Storr provides an in-depth look at Richter's life in postwar Germany, tracing the influences and environment that made his work possible. The book includes a revealing interview with the artist and a detailed chronology of his life and work, plus 138 color illustrations and 165 duotones. --J.P. Cohen

About the Author:

Gerhard Richter was born in 1932 in Dresden, Germany. Since the early 1960s he has emerged as one of the essential painters of the postwar period, pioneering photorealism with paintings made from found photographs (amateur snapshots, advertisements and book and magazine illustrations) and then from his own photographs. His work has also profoundly engaged with and influenced such genres as Pop and abstract art. A retrospective of Richter's work was shown in 2001 at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The exhibition was one of the largest ever organized there for a living artist, and traveled to The Art Institute of Chicago, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C.

Robert Storr is a curator, artist and critic who is the Dean of the Art School at Yale University. Among his many books is Modern Despite Modernism.

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