Gerhard Richter - Prints

Gerhard Richter Painting

Exactly 20 years ago I hurried to London to see a retrospective exhibition of paintings made by Gerhard Richter between 1962 and 1991. Yesterday I went to London by train to see the newest retrospective exhibition. The first exhibition was at the Tate Gallery and I went by boat (the Jetfoil!). Some months later I finished my Art History studies at the VUB with a text on the German painter. Ninety pages painfully typed on a typewriter. The text was (luckily) never published and is buried somewhere in the archives of the university.

The current show is at the Tate Modern. This article is only a few paragraphs, typed on a powerful computer and published almost immediately online. I am an artist now, I don’t do text anymore. So I don’t think I can add anything else to all the texts and interviews and opinions about Gerhard Richter. Just go, see and enjoy the works. Even if you think you already know what Richter is about. If your are honest, and you love art, and you love painting you have to go. It is a major event.

Be sure to watch the new film ‘Gerhard Richter Painting’ by Corinna Belz. (available on DVD) You will be watching Richter at work in his large studios. You will understand why these abstract paintings are so amazing. You will see also a very funny and sensitive painter, artist and human being. There is nothing hard to understand about his work. It is painting, pure and simple painting. The sound of the squeegee will hypnotize you. The film also gives a good insight look of the art world behind a great artist like Richter. It is a serious film about art that will make you smile.

Gerhard Richter Strip 920-1, detail

The really recent works by Richter were not in London. I saw some of those small works behind glass at a recent show in Köln. (2008-2009, Museum Ludwig). But I was most curious to see the recent ‘Strips’ (see Marian Goodman Gallery). Those are digital prints mounted between aluminum and perspex (diasec). Gerhard Richter is doing digital prints and presenting them as paintings. The catalogue includes an essay by Benjamin H.D. Buchloh (Painting progress, painting loss).

It’s significant that a great painter like Richter finally uses the computer as a tool and produces digital prints. This will help people understand that fine prints are works of art too. For Gerhard Richter, ‘painting’ (working with paint) is a different form of thinking. You can not translate or reduce that to a theory or in a text. The same is true when working with a computer and producing digital art prints. These prints are as much painting as the traditional paintings by Richter.

With the ‘Strips’ Richter is only discovering what will be possible. I am really looking forward to see how a technically skilled painter will cope with the possibilities of a computer.

Author: Hans Verhaegen, 2011