Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Gerhard Richter was born in Dresden in 1932 to a middle class family. Like many Germans of his generation, his relatives were involved in the Nazi movement; his mother's brother, Uncle Rudi died a young Nazi officer, while Richter's mentally disabled aunt was imprisoned in a Hitler euthanasia camp. This past caused his strong dislike for ideology of any kind and underpinned the attraction that nature, as an indiscriminate force, holds for him.

He embarked on a classical education at the Dresden Art Academy in Communist East Germany (DDR). Years later and a few months prior to the erection of the Berlin Wall, he and his wife fled -like my first wife and her mother- with only a suitcase to Düsseldorf in West Germany (FRG).

Richter's first solo exhibition was held at Mobelhaus Berges, Düsseldorf in 1963. It was the first presentation of his photo-based painting style. Richter blurred the paintings, modernising traditional art through technique, and using photography as his source of material. Richter's first exhibition in the U.S. took place at the Reinhard Onnasch Gallery in 1973. Fifteen years later in 1988 he was given his first North American retrospective organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

Unlike American artists Richter wasn't interested in the purity of art. Idealism had disillusioned him from an early age. Instead he painted images without glory; images that rendered the ridiculous, ordinary; the tragic, ordinary; the beautiful, ordinary.

His Abstraktes Bild picture fetched on auction at Christie's in June 2008 the fantastic sum of £1.16 million ($2.31 million). It is an oil on canvas 44 1/8 x 40¼in. (112 x 102cm.) painted in 1991.

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