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Bucerius Kunst Forum Throws New Light onto the Works Gerhard Richter Created in the 60s

February 8, 2011

HAMBURG.- Gerhard Richter’s large-scale photograph paintings created in the 1960s have made art history. By categorically continuing to paint, Richter positioned himself against the “exit from the picture”. This exhibition at the Bucerius Kunst Forum throws new light onto the works Richter created in the 1960s. Due to their relevance, they are considered images of an era. Many of these images have become inscribed onto the collective consciousness of modern German society. This applies in particular to the cycle October 18, 1977 (1988) which dealt with the death of RAF members at the Stammheim prison. It is one of Richter’s key works and represents a new type of historical painting.

Curated by Uwe M. Schneede, former director of the Hamburg Kunsthalle, this exhibition brings together 50 paintings from German and international collections. By focusing for the first time on his photo paintings, and highlighting their correspondence to reality, the exhibition grants us new insight into this important artistic period which formed the basis for Gerhard Richter’s fame.

Gerhard Richter’s paintings from the 1960s are inexplicably disturbing. They show a single moment in time – but one that remains enigmatic. These moments appear to be snapshots taken at random; however they were frequently inspired by sensational photo documentaries about con men, poisoners or shipwrecks. Richter’s work also reflects the ideals of the 1960s which were based on the happiness promised by Germany’s economic miracle. These ideals could be found in advertisements and in magazines and included fast cars, exotic travel destinations and glamorous film stars.

In his works based on photographic sources, Richter isolated motifs from photo spreads in magazines like Stern and Quick and enlarged them to painting size. Because very few people owned televisions and other images were relatively rare, these magazine photos had an enormous impact on the period and Richter employed them to create his images of an era. Like Warhol and Lichtenstein, he also depicted ordinary everyday objects. Gerhard Richter’s work appears as a rebirth of painting out of the spirit of Pop Art and the Fluxus movement. Its aim is to extract an additional memory dimension from viewers using elements of a specific time.

Read More

An interview with Gerhard Richter

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