An embarrassment of Richters

Last week, I finally made it over to the Neue Nationalgalerie to check out an exhibit of the paintings of Gerhard Richter, Germany’s most important living painter by a pretty wide margin. The exhibit’s gotten rave reviews — and hours-long lines outside the museum on weekends.

Now, I’m no expert on Richter, or on painting in general, but I’ll attempt to give you, dear reader, an annotated tour of the exhibit, in the off-chance you’re not able to visit the Neue Nationalgalerie yourself in the next couple of months.

Richter has an unbelievably diverse array of styles that, to my uninformed eye, play on three central contrasts: abstractness vs. realism, clarity vs. blurriness, and color vs. gray. I’ll tackle these one by one.


vs. realism:

I’m putting the above two in the “clarity” department, although even they have a slight blurriness to them (that, in my mind, actually enhances their realism). Compare to these blurrier-but-still-quite-realistic ones:

And, finally, colors:

vs. grays:

Bonus points if you can make out the two lions in that last one (though really, it’s much harder from up close).

And though Richter’s primarily known as a painter, he also dabbles in other forms, like various pieces that weren’t super inspiring but did accentuate the paintings on display:

On the whole, I must say, it’s one of the most spectacular exhibits I’ve ever seen — largely because despite its ambitious breadth, there are a few clear themes running through the works. Highly recommended if anyone’s in the neighborhood.


One Response to An embarrassment of Richters

  1. Pingback: Reflections on a modern art museum « Das Berlin Blog

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