This issue contains:
>> Interview with Benjamin Buchloh
>> Eight Grey - an introduction
>> Gerhard Richter in the Collection of the Deutsche Bank
>> Installation
>> The Lunch Lectures at Deutsche Guggenheim
>> Richter’s Mirror Metaphors in an Art Historical Context
In our archives:
>> Karin Sander - wordsearch

Gerhard Richter in the Collection of the Deutsche Bank



Faust, 1980, oil on canvas (three parts)


His monumental, three-panel painting “Faust” (1980) was purchased in 1982; in 1989, an exhibition tour took place dedicated to the large selection of the artists’ works in the collection of the Deutsche Bank. Just a few years ago, the Bank’s Cultural Foundation sponsored the presentation of his drawings and watercolors in Winterthur and Dresden as well as an accompanying catalogue of the works. Over the past two decades, Gerhard Richter’s work has assumed a prominent position in the collection of the Deutsche Bank. Following the comprehensive retrospective in New York’s Metropolitan Museum (now shown at the San Francisco MoMA), the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin is currently showing Richter’s most recent work, “Eight Grey.” On this occasion, db-art.info is taking the opportunity to introduce a few of Richter’s works from the collection of the Deutsche Bank.



Telephon 30.9.1990,
graphite on paper
© Deutsche Guggenheim
Berlin
 

Bleistiftspitzer 30.9.1990,
graphite on paper
© Deutsche Guggenheim
Berlin
 

Zettelbox 27.9.1990,
graphite on paper
© Deutsche Guggenheim
Berlin


Over the course of nearly forty years, Gerhard Richter neglected to keep a record of his drawings, watercolors, paintings, photographs, and other works on paper. The fact that he apparently granted this part of his artistic production somewhat less attention than his paintings and graphic prints could, perhaps, be interpreted as an expression of contempt: “I was accustomed to dismissing these things as too artistic, too typical, as the kind of thing that artists do – nice drawings and watercolors, an outdated technique, and almost as bad as etchings and lithographs.” Skepticism can be detected in this interview excerpt, which Dieter Schwarz chose for the beginning of his introduction to the volume Richter. Zeichnungen 1964–1999, published by the Kunstmuseum Winterthur – the reservation of an artist who never regarded himself as a draftsman and who only began revising his rejection of certain artistic techniques in the mid-eighties. As the exhibition in Winterthur and the accompanying catalogues testify to, the artist’s relationship to drawing is as ambiguous as it is differentiated: “In Richter’s mind, the separation between painting and drawing was also reflected in the choice of motif,” Schwarz writes; “from the very beginning, he made a distinction between motifs that lent themselves to painting and those that lent themselves to drawing, and according to Richter, he has retained this intuitive separation of themes to this day.”

In concentrating on Richter’s artistic works on paper, the collection of the Deutsche Bank is presenting an independent part of his artistic production from a perspective that may indeed be somewhat unfamiliar. At the same time, the 28th floor in Frankfurt’s twin skyscrapers is dedicated to his work; a large number of drawings can be seen here, which, together with the prints and watercolors, document the spectrum of techniques and positions that have determined Richter’s work since he co-founded “Capitalist Realism.”



  

The motifs of the painting Die Kahnfahrt (The Boat Trip), like those of the drawing Elektrische Bahn (Electric Train), both from 1965, are based on material Richter has repeatedly used for his works: newspaper photographs, advertisements, his own or found amateur photographs.



Kahnfahrt, 1965, oil on canvas



Elektrische Bahn, 1965, graphite on paper

The abstention from the subjective use of the brush, the impression of the “blurry” photograph arising through a handling of the brush that lightly blends the wet oil paint surface finds its equivalent in Electric Train: here, too, the motif appears to be in motion. Yet more than in the painting, the techniques of blurring and drawing over are clearly evident, with less emphasis placed on conventional atmospheric means or an intensification of expression.

In comparison with his painting, Richter’s drawing seems more direct – as an illustration of the considerations occupying the artist. In this respect, Richter noted in the mid-sixties: “I blur in order to make everything equal, everything equally important and equally unimportant. I blur so that all parts come together somewhat. I also, perhaps, blur to wipe out superfluous, unimportant information.” Richter, in avoiding all gestural expression in his paintings and drawings, also deprives the viewer of a basis for interpreting how the work came about. His silkscreen Dog (1965) depicts the blurry likeness of a German Shepherd; in spite of the relevant motif, it abstains from a judgmental commentary.



Hund, 1965, c-print

The cool distance that Richter’s monumental mirrors convey to the visitor of Eight Grey can also be detected in the snapshots of occurrences, landscapes, or still lifes which Richter uses to address the insoluble relationship between image and reproduction.


Funken, 1970, Offset
 

Seestück, 1970, Offset




Farbfelder, 1974, Offset
 

Besetztes Haus, 1990, Offset


In and out of focus, light and darkness, meaning and banality: the classical subjects of works such as Sparks (1970) or Sea Piece (1970) quote “expression,” while at the same time seeming strangely absent. Thus, in Color Fields, Yellow–Blue–Red (1974), the reality of an ordinary color chart combines with formal abstraction. Yet the emptier and more open the image appears, the closer it comes to the real nature of Richter’s painting, in which the image is always its own object.



4.5.1982, graphite and ink on paper
© Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin




4.5.1982, graphite and ink on paper
© Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin




4.5.1982, graphite and ink on paper
© Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin


As Richter’s works in the collection of the Deutsche Bank document, abstract works alternate with landscapes, portraits, and still lifes in his oeuvre, accompanied by drawings in varying degrees of intensity. In contrast to his painting, Richter’s graphic work is repeatedly interrupted by longer breaks. Along with studies on glass objects and paintings or mechanical drawings, drawings again and again arise in connection with abstract paintings or in series, such as the famous Halifax series from 1978. This type of drawing continues up until the nineties, although the works for the most part no longer carry titles, but merely dates which do not necessarily correspond with the time they were actually made. The lines and movements of his abstract works exist alongside his nearly laconic sketches of everyday objects, such as a box for notes, a pencil sharpener, or a telephone, which all arose at the beginning of the nineties. “Evidently, Richter’s graphic work is marked, as is his painting, by an unavoidable ambiguity, inconstancy, and a contingency of the visible,” Birgit Pelzer wrote in her essay on the catalogue of works. Indeed, Richter’s work evinces such a degree of variety and mutability regarding art’s paradigms that the viewer is always called upon to start at the beginning.

Oliver Koerner von Gustorf

Translation: Andrea Scrima

all pictures: © Gerhard Richter, Köln