Gerhard Richter (Dresden, 1932) is a German visual artist, he originally trained in a realist style and later developed an appreciation for the more progressive work of his American and European contemporaries. Richter is known for a prolific and stylistically varied exploration of the medium of painting, often incorporating and exploring the visual effects of photography. In the early 1960s, Richter began to create large-scale photorealist copies of black-and-white photographs rendered in a range of grays, and innovated a blurred effect (sometimes deemed “photographic impressionism”) in which portions of his compositions appear smeared or softened- paradoxically reproducing photographic effects and revealing his painterly hand. With heavily textured abstract gray monochromes, Richter introduced abstraction into his practice, and he has continued to move freely between figuration and abstraction, producing geometric “Colour Charts”, bold, gestural abstractions, and “Photo Paintings” of anything from nudes, flowers, and cars to landscapes, architecture, and scenes from Nazi history.
Richter increasingly employed his own painting as a means for exploring how images that appear to capture "truth" often prove, on extended viewing, far less objective, or unsure in meaning, than originally assumed. The other common themes in his work are the elements of chance, and the play between realism and abstraction. Richter has maintained a lifelong fascination for the power of images and painting's long, uneasy relationship with photography: while either medium may claim to reflect or express reality truthfully, either ultimately suggests only a partial, or incomplete view of a subject. Richter borrows much of his painted imagery from newspapers, or even his own family albums. This act of visual compression, in which photography, projection, and painting merge to make a finished art work, suggests that all vision is a kind of conversion of the "real" into the "imaginary."
Richter first began exhibiting in Düsseldorf in 1963. He had his first gallery solo show in 1964 at Galerie Schmela in Düsseldorf. Soon after, he had exhibitions in Munich and Berlin and by the early 1970s exhibited frequently throughout Europe and the United States. Richter's first retrospective took place at the Kunsthalle Bremen in 1976 and covered works from 1962 to 1974. Richter became known to a U.S. audience in 1990, when the Saint Louis Art Museum circulated Baader-Meinhof (October 18, 1977). Richter's first North American retrospective was in 1998 at the Art Gallery of Ontario and at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. In 2002, a 40-year retrospective of Richter's work was held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and traveled to The Art Institute of Chicago, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. He has participated in several international art shows, including the Venice Biennale (1972, 1980, 1984, 1997 and 2007), as well as Documenta V (1972), VII (1982), VIII (1987), IX (1992), and X (1997).
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