Origins[ edit ] Problems of vagueness and fuzziness have probably always existed in human experience. Sometimes people have to think, when they are not in the best frame of mind to do it, or, they have to talk about something out there, which just isn't sharply defined. Across time, however, philosophers and scientists began to reflect about those kinds of problems, in much more systematic ways.
February 20 to May 18, "I believe that the quintessential task of every painter in any time has been to concentrate on the essential. Horsley By Michele Leight Part chameleon, part provocateur, Gerhard Richter never fails to cause a commotion or force an unexpected reaction.
For an artist whose physical demeanor exudes gentleness and restraint, this is a puzzling and fascinating aspect of Richter's contradictory "oeuvre " and mystique.
There is a quote by Nietsche in the exhibition catalogue that cuts to the heart of the confusion: Richter's "take" on life appears to be that of a man permanently focused on "the dark side of the road," and he has consequently been called many negative things: Forty Years of Painting. He does not give the game away or willingly show us his hand, and he mischieviously delights in throwing would be "analysts" off his scent.
The penetrating interview by Robert Storr in the catalogue systematically reveals how elusive, and often frustrating, a subject Richter can be. The artists' responses to Storr's questions are as zig-zagging as his contradictory modes and genres of painting, which have encompassed both abstraction and figuration, often simultaneously.
This inconsistency of expression ignites criticism from many in the art world who crave a clear, "linear trajectory" by which to evaluate Richter's, or any artist's, work.
Trying to "pigeon-hole" Richter would be a waste of time, so be prepared before approaching the show to dispense with the idea that what you are about to see will be the familiar step-by-step, stylistically cohesive, chronological inventory of a major artists' work.
The infinite variety of styles is confusing for the uninitiated, although the catalogue interview is the quickest and most effective crash course in understanding the man behind the controversy - and the art.
The show is a brilliant combination of all that is wonderful about Richter - without side-stepping the bad - and Storr has deliberately maximized on the most controversial aspects of his work, leaving viewers to make up their own minds. Gerhard Richter and Robert Storr, curator of the exhibition, left, and the artist confronts the cameras, right It was standing-room-only at the press preview at the opening of the show at Museum of Modern Art in New York on February 13,where immense cameras came close to causing concussions in the push to get a good shot of the artist.
Richter refused to address the gathering even when asked to do so by Robert Storr, Senior Curator, Department of Painting and Sculpture at MOMA, who was publicly challenged by a reporter to invite the artist to speak; clearly Richter had said in advance he would not talk directly to the press.
He maintained a dignified and guarded stance and quietly shook his head. Lowry, Director of the Museum of Modern Art at press preview for exhibition on Gerhard Richter, shown in photograph upper left, photograph by Carter B. Horsley In his foreward to the catalogue, Glenn D. Lowry, the director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, provides the following commentary about the artist: Richter is the author of pictures so different from one another that at first glance they seem to be by different hands.
He has defined a vast pictorial and conceptual territory for himself, and has given it specific dimensions in canvases that vary from Photo-Realist figuration to total abstraction, from snapshot and postcard banality to transcendence, and from serene or pyrotechnic beauty to brooding austerity.
Aprroaching this maze of paintings can be confusing at first, but the more one looks and the more the overt contradictions and subtle continuities of Richter's oeuvre take on substance, the more enlightening the experience becomes.
In Richter's work there is pleasure and pain, sly wit and high seriousness, but above all there is a demonstration of the way in which painting's resources are constantly replenished by the very problems it seems to pose, both for the painter and the viewer.
Nobody in our own time has posed them better or solved them more inventively than Richter. Lowry, Richter delivered brief responses one-on-one to German press in his own language, and with a wave, departed stealthily, like his painting entitled "Stag Hirsch ,"private collectionescaping the thicket of branches and tree trunks in the forest, prominently visible past the crush and the cameras in a nearby gallery.
His relief at having survived the public ordeal was palpable. It is a work of great beauty and would have provided sufficient fodder for most other artists for most of their careers.
Similarly, many artists are not consistent, sometimes producing works that are not up to their highest standards but Richter often produces works that are odd and "out-of-keeping" with conventional notions of talent.
Richter manipulates reproductions of images from sources as diverse as encyclopaedias, magazines and newspapers, transforming them into cultural archetypes. The previously mentioned stag alludes to the German fascination with the wild, symbolized by the forest and the deer, a direct descendent of Nordic legend and Romanticism.
I wanted to be a forester when I was young, and I was really excited when I found a real stag in the forest and took a photograph. Later I painted him, and the painting was a bit less romantic than my youthful photograph.
Two previous surveys of Richter's work were held over a decade ago: InMOMA showed canvases from his famous, and to some notorious, "October 18, " series, devoted to the Baader Meinhoff terrorists; all fifteen of these important paintings are now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art.
Richter was born in Dresden ingrew up under National Socialism and lived under East German Communism for 16 years before moving to West Germany in His greatest contribution to postwar art has been his pioneering of realism through paintings copied from photographs.
Choosing to walk alone he has also created sumptuous abstracts and Neo-Expressionist imagery. Richter's aversion to "groups" or schools or ideologies of any kind is a byproduct of the experiences of his youth. Richter's images have regularly appeared in European shows for the past twenty years, but a major retrospective of his work at MOMA, is a confirmation of just how important Richter is now considered by the powers that "make and break" in the art world.
His personal "history" is a fascinating read on its own, and an eerie reminder of how the world repeats negative patterns. Now seventy years old, Richter's paintings fetch awesome prices for works by a living artist, setting records at Sotheby's and Christies during the past two years.
Such prices reflect the fact that many collectors believe him to be the one of the most famous, and important, living artists in the world today. Ironically, the candle paintings for which he is now famous were poorly received in the early s when they were first exhibited, mainly because Richter was then immersed in vividly hued abstracts.40 (Volume 20, No.
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