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Over the course of his acclaimed 60-year career, Gerhard Richter (b. 1932) has employed both representation and abstraction as a means of reckoning with the legacy, collective memory, and national sensibility of post–Second World War Germany, in both broad and very personal terms. This handsomely designed book features approximately 100 of his key canvases, from photo paintings created in the early 1960s to portraits and later large-scale abstract series, as well as select works in glass. New essays by eminent scholars address a variety of themes: Sheena Wagstaff evaluates the conceptual import of the artist’s technique; Benjamin H. D. Buchloh discusses the poignant Birkenau paintings (2014); Peter Geimer explores the artist’s enduring interest in photographic imagery; Briony Fer looks at Richter’s family pictures against traditional painting genres and conventions; Brinda Kumar investigates the artist’s engagement with landscape as a site of memory; André Rottmann considers the impact of randomization and chance on Richter’s abstract works; and Hal Foster examines the glass and mirror works. As this book demonstrates, Richter’s rich and varied oeuvre is a testament to the continued relevance of painting in contemporary art.
From the Publisher
“[Richter’s] sensitive intelligence and artistry have reckoned with the gravest questions of history and the ability of painting to communicate a retrieval of collective memory.”
“Gerhard Richter is regarded as one of the most serious painters of our time, whose sensitive intelligence and artistry have reckoned with the gravest questions of history and the ability of painting to communicate a retrieval of collective memory. His entire artistic project over six decades has reinvigorated and expanded the conventional genres of painting. It has also restored conﬁdence in the importance of forms of abstraction. At a time when the power of the image is central to a resurgence in both ﬁgurative and abstract painting, Richter’s reconciliation of both approaches to picture making is evident throughout his oeuvre. Asked what he regards as the purpose of art, Richter answered: “For surviving this world. . . . [Art] has the measure of all the unfathomable, senseless things, the incessant ruthlessness of our world. And art shows us how to see things that are constructive and good, and to be an active part of that.”
—From “Introduction: The Excavation of Memory” by Sheena Wagstaff