Gerhard Richter –Overpainted Photographs
17 October 2008 - 18 January 2009
Around 500 works in the exhibition including numerous works owned by the artist himself show how since 1989 Gerhard Richter has worked intensively on this body of work that is of great personal importance to him.
The majority of the overpainted photos are created by the artist pulling the photo through the wet paint on the spreading knife using a wiping movement. In this way, he can pick up large quantities of paint that, with a slight movement, lie like amorphous islands, sometimes millimetres thick, on the photographic paper and have the appearance of closed skin; conversely, with a stronger movement, the direction is at the same time visible as a pastose, directional colour gradient.
For his overpainted works, Richter generally uses standard reprints of photographs taken on trips, walks and in his private surroundings. The photos seem – not least because of the predominant format of 10 x 15 cm – as if they were taken from a family album and subsequently artistically processed.
The eye that, in the beginning, was focussed heavily on the photographic motif soon enters into a lively dialogue with the deep spaces, colour correspondences and basic form. "The public scenes, whether on the beach or the ski slope or children's theatre, are beset with sudden surges of colour that tend to resemble interventions of the sky or elemental forces, more than the moods of a decorative or ornamental painter annotation. Sometimes they seem like catastrophic visions. Blood-red snowflakes dance above the white firn. The photo shows skyscrapers in the urban morning sun – and the oil paint adds to the sulphurous fire that pours over the city from the sky – as described by Botho Strauß in the catalogue.
More than 60 donators have given the 500 photographs which are almost completely from private collections. Most of the exhibits are shown in the public for the first time and for a short duration accessible in Leverkusen and afterwards in the Centre de la Photographie Genève, Switzerland (29.01.2009 – 29.03.2009).
In connection with the exhibition a catalogue in German and English is published by Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern, 392 pages, 470 pictures, with contributions from Markus Heinzelmann, Siri Hustvedt, Uwe M. Schneede and Botho Strauß. The foreword is written by Joerg Bader and Markus Heinzelmann. ISBN 978-3-7757-2242-1 (German), ISBN 978-3-7757-2243-8 (English)