Richter, Gerhard

Richter, Gerhard gārˈhärt rĭkhˈtər [key], 1932–, German painter, b. Dresden, studied Academy of Fine Arts, Dresden (1951–56) and Düsseldorf (1961–63). Widely considered one of the foremost painters of his generation, he lived for nearly 30 years in East Germany where, cut off from contemporary art, he painted social realist murals until he defected to West Germany in 1961. Richter has varied his style from austere photorealism to satirical pop to minimalism to pure abstraction. Coolly painted, his typical images include figures (derived from family and newspaper pictures, ads, and the like) dissolved into out-of-focus yet recognizable blurs; realistic portrayals of chairs, mirrors, skulls, burning candles, and other recurring objects; grisaille portraits of cultural heroes and other subjects; depictions of color charts in seemingly random order; slashing gestural abstractions; and large monochromatic grids derived from electron-microscope photographs of minerals. At times World War II and the Holocaust have been his subjects, as in a small paint-blurred photograph of his uncle in his Wehrmacht uniform (1965) and in his Birkenau quartet (2014), in which dragged and layered paint obscures images of the concentration camp. Extremely prolific, he also has created photographs, sculpture, drawings, and stained-glass windows for Tholey Abbey, Germany.

See D. Elger, ed., Gerhard Richter; Catalogue Raisonné (3 vol., 1997–), Atlas of the Photographs and Sketches (1997), and Gerhard Richter: 1998 (1999); R. Nasgaard, Gerhard Richter: Paintings (1988); H.-U. Obrist, ed., The Daily Practice of Painting: Writings and Interviews, 1962–1993 (1995) and Gerhard Richter: 100 Pictures (1996); R. Storr, Gerhard Richter: Forty Years of Painting (2002); B. H. D. Buchloh, ed., Gerhard Richter (2009); D. Elger, Gerhard Richter: A Life in Painting (2010): C. Mehring et al., ed., Gerhard Richter: Early Work, 1951–1972 (2011); S. Wagstaff and B. H. D. Buchloh, Gerhard Richter: Painting after All (museum catalog, 2020).

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