Gerhard Richter was born in 1932 in Dresden, Germany. Throughout his career, Richter has negotiated the frontier between photography and painting, captivated by the way in which these two seemingly opposing practices speak to and challenge one another. From exuberant canvases rendered with a squeegee and acerbic color charts to paintings of photographic detail and close-ups of a single brushstroke, Richter moves effortlessly between the two mediums, reveling in the complexity of their relationship, while never asserting one above the other.
Richter’s life traces the defining moments of twentieth-century history and his work reverberates with the trauma of National Socialism and the Holocaust. In the wake of the Second World War, Richter trained in a Socialist Realist style sanctioned by East Germany’s Communist government. When he defected to West Germany in 1961, a month before the Berlin Wall was erected, Richter left his entire artistic oeuvre up to that point behind. From 1961 to 1964—alongside Blinky Palermo and Sigmar Polke—Richter studied at the Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where he began to explore the material, conceptual, and historical implications of painting without ideological restraint.
Richter’s earliest paintings in Düsseldorf, stimulated by a fascination with current affairs and popular culture, responded to images from magazines and newspaper cuttings. Through the 1960s, Richter continued to address found and media images of subjects such as military jets, portraits, and aerial photographs. Notably, he reimagined family pictures he had smuggled from East Germany that included his smiling uncle Rudi, dressed in a Nazi uniform, and aunt Marianne, who Richter later discovered had been murdered in a mental institution during the Third Reich. Richter’s idiosyncratic technique of blurring made such complex moments of personal and social history seem to crackle with static, distancing the viewer from their subjects and casting doubt on the ability of painting to document in the same way as photography. In 1967, Richter was awarded the Junger Western art prize and began to expand his series of, what have come to be known as, Farbtafeln (Color Charts) (1966–2008) and Graue Bilder (Gray Paintings) (1966–2014). Richter was drawn to the tonal nuances of gray as well as the hue’s conceptual rigor—seemingly stripped of feeling and association. In 1972, Richter was chosen to represent West Germany at the Venice Biennale. That same year, he exhibited at Documenta in Kassel, Germany, where he showed again in 1977, 1982, and 1987.
Richter has continued to interrogate the conceptual and formal resonance of photographic images over the past six decades—adjusting, cropping, and manipulating his sources, and building an archival compendium of monumental breadth titled Atlas (1962–2013). He equally addresses what can and cannot be represented in his work, confronting such painful moments of recent history as the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the horrors of the Holocaust at Birkenau, and the lives and deaths of the members of the left-wing extremist Baader-Meinhof Group.
As Richter treads the tightrope between painting and photography, he embraces a vast array of techniques and subjects, from the highly charged to the everyday—as evidenced by his monumental 2020 survey Painting After All at the Met Breuer, New York. Richter probes the nature of representation and perception with a characteristic sense of restless skepticism.
Tuesday, June 8, 2021, 2pm EDT
Featuring Hans Ulrich Obrist, Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener, and Patti Smith
The seventh episode of Gagosian Premieres celebrates Gerhard Richter: Cage Paintings—an exhibition presented at Gagosian New York and Beverly Hills—with a musical performance and reading by Patti Smith, new choreography created and performed by Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener in response to the artist’s work, and commentaries by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Richard Calvocoressi.
Extended through April 3, 2021
December 3, 2020–April 3, 2021
Extended through February 15, 2020
November 8, 2019–February 15, 2020
976 Madison Avenue, New York
Jacoba Urist profiles the legendary collector.
Hans Ulrich Obrist traces the history behind Richter’s Cage paintings and speaks with the artist about their creation.
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2021
The Spring 2021 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Gerhard Richter’s Helen (1963) on its cover.
Gerhard Richter: Young Gerd
Richard Calvocoressi reflects on the monochrome world of Gerhard Richter’s early photo paintings.
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2020
The Spring 2020 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #412 (2003) on its cover.
Visions of the Self: Jenny Saville on Rembrandt
Jenny Saville reveals the process behind her new self-portrait, painted in response to Rembrandt’s masterpiece Self-Portrait with Two Circles.
FIAC Online 2021
March 2–12, 2021
Gagosian is pleased to present Printemps oublié for the first online edition of FIAC. This curated presentation reflects the dual character of springtime as a reminder of past trials and the harbinger of a vibrant new season to come.
All the artworks will appear on the Gagosian website and a rotating selection will appear in the inaugural FIAC Online Viewing Rooms, from March 4 to 7.
Jeff Koons, Bluebird Planter, 2010–16 © Jeff Koons
Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now
In partnership with English Heritage
Thursday, April 25, 2019, 6pm
Gagosian, Grosvenor Hill, London
Gagosian director and art historian Richard Calvocoressi will lead a tour of the exhibition Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now at Gagosian, Grosvenor Hill, London. Calvocoressi will take a look at postwar and contemporary masters of self-representation, anchoring the conversation to an important Rembrandt masterpiece included in the exhibition, Self-Portrait with Two Circles (c. 1665). The event has reached capacity. To join the wait list, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rembrandt van Rijn, Self-Portrait with Two Circles, c. 1665, English Heritage, The Iveagh Bequest (Kenwood, London). Photo: Historic England Photo Library
Contemporary European Art
June 9–October 10, 2021
Flughafen Tempelhof, Berlin
Presenting work by more than ninety established and emerging artists from thirty-four countries, Diversity United reflects the diversity and vitality of Europe’s contemporary art scene. The exhibition, which will travel to venues in Moscow and Paris, sheds light on subjects such as freedom, democracy, migration, territory, and political and personal identity. Work by Georg Baselitz, Anselm Kiefer, Gerhard Richter, Tatiana Trouvé, and Rachel Whiteread is included.
Rachel Whiteread, Untitled, 2010, installation view, Flughafen Tempelhof, Berlin © Rachel Whiteread
March 26–July 25, 2021
This exhibition, whose title translates to Landscape, offers a comprehensive retrospective of Gerhard Richter’s landscapes, including numerous oil paintings, drawings, collages, overpainted photographs, prints, artist’s books, and objects that reflect the theme from the 1960s until today. The show has traveled from the Kunstforum Wien in Vienna.
00s. Collection Cranford
Les années 2000
October 24, 2020–May 30, 2021
Mo.Co. Contemporary, Montpellier, France
This exhibition of work from the Cranford Collection, established by Muriel and Freddy Salem in 1999, aims to define the identity of the 2000s by creating a dialogue between one hundred artworks by a multigenerational array of artists who contributed to shaping the beginning of the millennium. Work by Glenn Brown, Damien Hirst, Mike Kelley, Albert Oehlen, Gerhard Richter, Ed Ruscha, Cindy Sherman, Jeff Wall, Franz West, and Christopher Wool is included.
Glenn Brown, Lemon Sunshine, 2001 © Glenn Brown
October 1, 2020–March 7, 2021
Kunstforum Wien, Vienna
This exhibition, whose title translates to Landscape, offers a comprehensive retrospective of Gerhard Richter’s landscapes, including numerous oil paintings, drawings, printed graphics, photography, artist’s books, and objects that reflect the theme from the 1960s until today.
Gerhard Richter, Waldhaus (House in Forest), 2004 © Gerhard Richter 2020