Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter : A Life in Painting

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Gerhard Richter is one of the most important and popular artists of the postwar era. For decades he has sought innovative ways to make painting more relevant, often through a multifaceted dialogue with photography. Today Richter is most widely recognized for the photo-paintings he made during the 1960s that rely on images culled from mass media and pop culture. Always fascinated with the limits and uncertainties of representation, he has since then produced landscapes, abstractions, glass and mirror constructions, prints, sculptures, and installations. Though Richter has been known in the United States for quite some time, the highly successful retrospective of his work at the MOMA in 2002 catapulted him to unprecedented fame. Enter noted curator Dietmar Elger, who here presents the first biography of this contemporary artist. Written with full access to Richter and his archives, this fascinating book offers unprecedented insight into his life and work. Elger explores Richter's childhood in Nazi Germany; his years as a student and mural painter in communist East Germany; his time in the West during the turbulent 1960s and '70s, when student protests, political strife, and violence tore the Federal Republic of Germany apart; and, his rise to international acclaim during the 1980s and beyond. Richter has always been a difficult personality to parse, and the seemingly contradictory strands of his artistic practice have frustrated and sometimes confounded critics. But the extensive interviews on which this book is based disclose a Richter who is far more candid and vivid than ever before. The result is a book that will be the foundational portrait of this artist and his profoundly influential oeuvre.

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Product details

  • Hardback | 468 pages
  • 185.42 x 259.08 x 40.64mm | 1,383.45g
  • The University of Chicago Press
  • University of Chicago Press
  • Chicago, IL, United States
  • English
  • Revised ed.
  • 78 colour plates, 103 halftones
  • 0226203239
  • 9780226203232
  • 419,212

Review quote

"At a time when art is full of doubt, Richter is the most self-critical of artists, putting painting to the most extravagant tests and taking nothing for granted. In the process, he makes disturbing and often utterly beautiful art.... His work asks people to think freshly and not romantically about control versus freedom, austerity versus exuberance, faith versus skepticism: about what we can trust in what we see.... Having grown up under the Nazis and then in Communist East Germany, he has had his share of dictators and ideologues, in life and in art. He is a solitary man who rarely grants interviews, aware that his solitude also enhances his aura." - New York Times"

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About Dietmar Elger

Dietmar Elger is director of the Gerhard Richter Archive and chief curator at the Galerie Neue Meister, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden. He is former curator for painting and sculpture at the Sprengel Museum in Hannover. Between 1984 and 1985 he was the secretary in Gerhard Richter's studio. He has organized numerous exhibitions on modern and contemporary art and has written and edited their accompanying catalogs. Elizabeth M. Solaro is a translator of works from the German.

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