It is hard to understand and easy to love modern art. Especially, if we talk about Gerhard Richter who is considered to be one of the most respected contemporary artists. His artworks are included in the collection of the biggest museums in the world. Richter took the 1st place in the annual rating of the most expensive and successful masters in modern German art.
The main theme of Richter’s work for more than 50 years is the searching for the meaning of the image in our perception of reality. He believes that the reality is incomprehensible. The things we see just the similarity of it. Its connection with the reality is biased. That’s what he reflects in his paintings.
Gerhard Richter began as an artist of the wall paintings. His first work was “Communication with Picasso” for which he received a bachelor degree in the Higher School of Fine Arts in Dresden. His other work called “The joy of life” decorated the German museum of hygiene. Both works have the political implication, connected with Richter’s leaving from GDR. However, he returned after 10 years and worked as a professor in Higher School.
Drawings under the impression of the photos were born in 1962. At first, he reflected the things we saw in magazines, family archives and photographs. Real images were transformed into something barely recognized and blurred. Richter’s works resembled advertising posters: he used symbols, logos and fonts from billboards and applied them on photographs. This period was named “capitalist realism”. As you can guess, capital realism was meant as an antithesis of social realism, the official doctrine of the Soviet countries. In contrast to the social realism, capital realism was mainly addressed to the consumer philosophy of the Western world.
At first, Richter focused on the figurative paintings in photographs, but then he made a very radical and rapid step to the abstractionism. However, the artist does not like the word “abstractionism” because it sounds like “abstracting from something” and this is true. In the contrast to the other abstractive artists, Richter’s artworks have a deep meaning inside. For example, his installation “Birkenau” includes paintings, photocopies and 90 miniature abstract fragments that were made by inmates of the concentration camp in August 1944.
Another worthwhile paintings are called “October 18, 1977”. Here the artist reproduces the photographs in grey colors, arising in connection with the appearance in the press photos of imprisoners, deaths and members of the Red Army. According to Richter, he was not interested in politics and was not going to perpetuate the extremists. He was just struck with the “social aspirations of these people…the frightening power of the idea, for which it is not a pity to die”. Patiently copying the photos down, the artist presented the result as a reflection of deaths. Art critic Benjamin Buchlo considered early Richter’s strategies as an ironic attempt to deal with political history in the best traditions of the avant-garde. However, the artist said he was far away from politics. Throughout the long and creative life, Richter was mainly interested in the idea of the art representation in the digital era. He used to say it is necessary to see again the content in the form, not the form as something that contains the content because it has no form, it is self-shaped.
Gerhard Richter draws in different styles but the most common are hyperrealism and abstraction. The artist loves experimenting with techniques. For example, he can create paintings on enlarged black and white photographs of Bridget Bardo and advertising clippings. However, even here you will find a deep meaning. Richter considers photography as a constant and impenetrable source, from which he repels the process of creating a new image.
In the 80s Richter became the winner of the Arnold Bode and Oscar Kokoschka awards. Since then his works can be found in all the major exhibition halls of the world. A sign of the great honor was the “Creativity for forty years” retrospective, held in 2002 at the Museum of modern art in New York. Many authoritative sources consider Richter’s artworks to be the most expensive among all the modern painting. One of his works costs around 30 million dollars now. It will not be a big surprise if after 50 years his paintings will be more expensive than the paintings of Picasso and Dali.