Richter, Gerhard

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Richter, Gerhard

Gerhard Richter (gār´härt rĬkh´tər), 1932–, German painter, b. Dresden, studied Academy of Fine Arts, Dresden (1951–56) and Düsseldorf (1961–63). Widely considered one of the foremost painters of his generation, he lived for nearly 30 years in East Germany where, cut off from contemporary art, he painted social realist murals. In 1961 he defected to West Germany, and flourished under its artistic freedom. Unwilling to settle on any one approach, Richter has varied his style from austere photorealism to satirical pop to minimalism to pure abstraction. Coolly painted, his typical images include figures (derived from family and newspaper pictures, ads, and the like) dissolved into out-of-focus yet recognizable blurs; realistic portrayals of chairs, mirrors, skulls, burning candles, and other favorite objects; grisaille portraits of cultural heroes and other subjects; depictions of color charts in seemingly random order; slashing gestural abstractions; and large monochromatic grids derived from electron-microscope photographs of minerals. Richter has exhibited throughout Europe, and in 2002 he had a major retrospective at New York's Museum of Modern Art. Extremely prolific, he also creates photographs, sculpture, and drawings.

See D. Elger, ed., Gerhard Richter; Catalogue Raisonné (3 vol., 1997–), Atlas of the Photographs and Sketches (1997), and Gerhard Richter: 1998 (1999); R. Nasgaard, Gerhard Richter: Paintings (1988); H.-U. Obrist, ed., The Daily Practice of Painting: Writings and Interviews, 1962–1993 (1995) and Gerhard Richter: 100 Pictures (1996); R. Storr, Gerhard Richter: Forty Years of Painting (2002); B. H. D. Buchloh, ed., Gerhard Richter (2009); D. Elger, Gerhard Richter: A Life in Painting (2010): C. Mehring et al., ed., Gerhard Richter: Early Work, 1951–1972 (2011).

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