One of the most sought-after European artists alive today – Gerhard Richter has had an unmistakable impact on the art world. He has never stuck to one particular movement or style and helped blur the lines between photography and painting – one of the most significant developments in art over the past 100 years. Richter’s art has been constantly self-aware about its own limitations, and he has toyed with this same idea in painting and photography.

Source: WSJ

Curious to know more about Gerhard Richter, and how he became the influential artist he is today? Read on, as we break down Mostly Everything You Need To Know About Gerhard Richter:


Gerhard Richter was born in 1932, at a very crucial time in Germany. It was right before the rise of the Nazi Third Reich. In fact, many of his relatives like his father and uncles were part of the Nazi movement. Richter, however, chose to seek creative inspiration from nature instead of any religious or political affairs. The constant clashes in the region had already been traumatizing for Richter: his father lost his employment, and his uncles died in action. All this turmoil eventually shaped up Richter as an artist.

I’m still very sure that painting is one of the most basic human capacities, like dancing and singing, that make sense, that stay with us, as something human.

Gerhard Richter

Impact On Art

Today, at the age of 87, Gerhard Richter is considered one of the most relevant German artists of the post-World War II period. He’s also amongst the world’s most expensive – each painting of his often selling for millions of dollars (one sold for $46 million in 2015!) But his prominence isn’t just a recent phenomenon! In fact, all the way back to the 1960s – Richter set himself apart from other artists who were focused mainly on painterly achievement. He used photography to translate into oil painting the visual effects that can be achieved with a camera. Richter’s photo-paintings are a whole genre of their own.

Source: Medium

They are based on elements of consumer culture and images of celebrities found in newspapers and magazines.

Impact On Culture

As someone who lived through, and survived, a difficult time in the history of humanity – Richter’s art has been a response to traumatic events in his lifetime, including World War II and the Holocaust. His art reflects his experiences through a sustained, influential approach that rejects tradition. Richter’s art explores history by investing all manner of everyday images, both private and public, but with a personal emotional register.

People won’t stop painting, just as they won’t stop making music or dancing. This is a facility we have. Children don’t stop doing it or having it. On the other hand, it seems we don’t need painting anymore. Culture is more interested in entertaining people.

Gerhard Richter

Most Prominent Art

Mund is one of the first paintings Richter completed from a photo. The painting depicts Brigitte Bardot’s open mouth adorned with red lipstick and is meant to be sexually suggestive in nature. He uses blurred flesh tones and dry-brush techniques to carve the surface. The art suggests Richter viewing reality from a detached perspective, as you don’t see any moment of a clear focus on the full image.

When I begin, theoretically and practically I can smear anything I want on the canvas. Then there’s a condition I have to react to, by changing it or destroying it.

Gerhard Richter
Source: Gerhard-Richter – Mund (Mouth)

Abstraktes Bild

It was in the 1970s that Richter first began to identify his work as “Abstract“. This was one of his first Abstract Paintings. Here, he uses cool tones of blue and purple to create a shallow atmosphere. He uses geometric lines and shapes that look like fractured icebergs emerging from the painted surface. The viewers question whether what they perceive is real or fiction, unintentionally getting familiarized with visual philosophy. Such is the brilliance of Richter’s work!

Source: Gerhard-Richter – Abstraktes Bild

This is one of Richter’s early grey paintings, defined and composed by color and structure only. Richter avoids recognizable imagery or figuration and is indifferent towards any model being his subject matter. He uses monochromatic color and thick brushstrokes, sweeping across the canvas in an entirely fused, fluid motion. What you see is similar to any realistic scene or photograph captured in the world around us.

When I begin, theoretically and practically I can smear anything I want on the canvas. Then there’s a condition I have to react to, by changing it or destroying it.

Gerhard Richter


Source: Gerhard-Richter – Farbschlieren

Bottom Line:

Gerhard Richter is arguably one of the most influential artists of the 21st Century. His abstract works and photorealistic pieces will be getting studies for centuries to come!

Looking to explore more art genres? Head over to Joe for a multidisciplinary, visually stunning experience. ☮️❤️🎨

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