This was a fantastic show. The Pompidou is such a great venue – somehow even the crowds don’t take away from the experience. Having seen the documentary Gerhard Richter: Painting, I was aware of the process that he uses to make the squeegee painting – it involves a lot of thinking and waiting – it was wonderful to see many of them, together in one place, as well as Richter’s other work (almost five decades of painting) in which he has explored many ideas and styles of work.
While I felt some are much more successful than others, I noticed the importance of scale in these works. The smaller ones just don’t seem as successful. You need to feel dwarfed by the work. This mirror piece, placed among the abstracts, drove the point home. Essentially a framed mirror, it placed viewers fully into the piece. Fantastic!
Here’s another work that brings the viewer partly into the painting with smoked mirror glass overtop:
For his photographic paintings from the 60s and 70s, he is known as one of the first visual artists to deal with the emotion surrounding post WW2 Germany. By painting ‘soft focus’ versions of newspaper photos, he disempowered them.
I particularly love this series – a landscape that moves from representational to abstract in increasingly smaller size, as if illustrating his own process:
And of course his wonderfully modern abstract overpainted photographs that deftly delineate the spaces in between the viewer and the photograph. This one reminds me of Georgian Bay, Ontario:
Richter is an amazing artist. One thing I love about many german artists (and all truly great artists, IMHO) is how seriously they take art. Art can reveal great truths.
I was struck by this quote: it’s from the book Text: Writings, Interviews and Letters 1961 – 2007 in which Richter says: “The tremendous strength, the terrifying power that an idea has, which goes as far as death. This is the most impressive thing, to me, and the most inexplicable thing; that we produce ideas, which are almost always not only utterly wrong and nonsensical but also dangerous. Wars of religion and the rest: it is fundamentally all about nothing, about pure blather – and we take it utterly seriously, fanatically, even unto death.”
Finally, this abstract is one of several that seemed to suggest the move from darkness into light.
That is, enlightenment.