Friday, 19 February 2010

Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter’s photo-realist style was spurred on by the neo-Dadaism of Fluxus. He referred to his “photo paintings” as “capitalist realism” (Wheeler, 1991, p.279). Dadaist influence is not always immediately apparent. With the picture Emma (Nude on a Staircase) from 1966 there is the reference to Duchamp’s 1912 Nude Descending Staircase (albeit pre-Dada). His “original motivation in turning to photographs was a wilful act of negation (Nasgaard, R., 1988 p. p.40). This decision was “primarily to escape alternative options for making art that were available in the 1960s” notably “the doctrinaire heroics of Socialist Realism, the cult of subjectivity of Art Informal, the spirituality of Yves Klein and the idealism of the Zero Group” (Nasgaard, R., 1988 p.40).

Woman with Umbrella (1964)

Emma (Nude on a Staircase) 1966

Two candles 1982

Sonic Youth: "Daydream Nation" 1988

My own experience of Richter’s work is rather limited outside of books and other reproductions. I recall that sometime between 1988-1991 Richter’s name came to my attention, firstly in the art classes and then in the studios and at college: West Park and then Stourbridge. His work was very visible. Richter’s Kerze (Candle) 1983, featured on the cover of Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation (Kerze, 1982 featured on the inside cover). Richter seemed the height of cool.

Betty 1988

Confrontation 1 1988

The early Richter’s are smudgy, smudgy like old news print photographs. “Richter like Andy Warhol appropriated tabloid as well as snapshots” in an attempt to reconnect “his art to the contemporary social world” (Wheeler, 1991 p279). The end result is “deadpan, hands-off” (1991, p. 279). The effects are similar to those in Photoshop as it fuses together the techniques of photography and the visual effects of oil paint. These kinds of effects can be achieved very easily within that programme. The qualities of paint within Richter’s work is very interesting: “whether in full colour or monochrome sepia , the image might be delicately glazed and scumbled to suggest timeless candlelight moment or its surface smudged and dragged to create an impression of a flash in the torrent of media images” (Wheeler, 1991 p.279).

Nasgaard, R., (1988) “Gerhard Richter: The Figurative work” in Neef, T,. (ed) (1988) Gerhard Richter: Paintings, London: Thames and Hudson pp.39-72.
Neef, T,. (ed) (1988) Gerhard Richter: Paintings, London: Thames and Hudson.
Wheeler, D. (1991) Art since Mid-Century: 1945 to the Present, London: Thames and Hudson.

No comments:

Post a Comment