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it’s just a book… “Gerhard Richter – A Life in Painting” by Dietmar Elger (transl. Elisabeth…)

September 30th, 2009 · No Comments · Art, Biography, It's just a Book

Gerhard Richter is without doubt Germany’s greatest living painter with a body of work that spans nearly five decades. The 2002 US retrospective of his work (notably at the MOMA in New York and San Francisco) cemented his reputation as an international artist and drew attention to the breadth of his range on a wider level.

Born in Dresden in 1932, Richter grew up in the Communist occupied part of German after the war. Fleeing a short time before the Wall was built, Richter quickly established himself in Düsseldorf in West Germany. There he met and worked with artists such as Sigmar Polke, Konrad Fischer-Lueg and Georg Baselitz.

At a time when performance and pop art became fashionable (and required no further artistic skills), Richter concentrated on painting as his means of expression. Famously elusive and tight-lipped about the meaning of his paintings, the first period of his work encompasses hundreds of paintings that look like photographs.

At a time when performance and pop art became fashionable (and required no further artistic skills), Richter concentrated on painting as his means of expression. Famously elusive and tight-lipped about the meaning of his subject matter, the first period of his work encompasses hundreds of paintings that look like photographs. Over the last twenty years, Richter has concentrated more on abstract paintings, landscapes, abstractions, glass and mirror constructions, prints, sculptures, and installations.

Dietmar Elger’s book is one of two (Robert Storr’s “Gerhard Richter: Forty Years of Painting” being the other) of recent years that have been published and translated into English. In contrast to Storr’s excellent essay, Elger’s is the first full biography ever to be written about Richter. Dietmar Elger’s German viewpoint also helps to evaluate the specific historic context of Richter’s work appropriately.

Elger’s authority is confirmed by the fact that he used to work as Richter’s assistant and had unprecended access to Richter and his archives in preparation for the book. Reading Richter’s responses and input throughout the book, it migth come as a surprise to find the painter uncharacteristcally informative and candid.

If you don’t fancy reading a wordy book on art, visit Gerhard Richter recently launched website (www.gerhard-richter.com) which lists every single one of his works, is packed with useful information and is a very good introduction to this great contemporary artist.

 

 

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