48 portraits by gerhard richter
 
48 portraits by gerhard richter
feb 18, 2009

48 portraits by gerhard richter

the exhibition at de pont museum in tilburg, netherlands runs until june 14, 2009.

oscar wilde, a photo-realistic painting by gerhard richter, 1972 image courtesy de pont museum of contemporary art

photography, painting and installation… the work of contemporary german artist gerhard richter contains elements of all three. 48 portraits (1971/72) is a series of paintings that were first shown in the german pavilion at the venice biennial in 1972.

48 portraits by gerhard richterimage courtesy de pont museum of contemporary art

richter presented these portraits, hung in a line, all at the same level, and ordered according to the position of the head, with a sequence of gazes that fanned out from the centre to the left and right.

48 portraits by gerhard richterimage courtesy de pont museum of contemporary artthese painterly images, based on the black and white reproductions in encyclopaedias, came out after having excluded pictures of artists, women and politicians from a selection of 288 original photographs chosen by richter for another, previous work.

48 portraits by gerhard richterimage courtesy de pont museum of contemporary art

grayness pervades everything. the grayness of gerhard richter’s work is instructive, and distressing. the moments are not false but the records are falsifications that inherently disregard what came before and what came after. richter evolved a method of unpainting, which meant painting a scene based on a photograph, black and white, and then brushing to blur the images.

48 portraits by gerhard richterimage courtesy de pont museum of contemporary art

they are whole, basically untouched, accepted icons of history. by obscuring the identities of the people depicted and questioning the relationships between them, richter’s portraits provide a fascinating insight into the way we view the world.

48 portraits by gerhard richterimage courtesy de pont museum of contemporary art

the work is on loan from museum ludwig in cologne, from april 2008 through may 2009, in exchange for the de pont’s hermes trismegistos by sigmar polke, which is on view in cologne during that period.

german artist gerhard richter was born in dresden in 1932. since the early 1960s he has tirelessly explored the medium of painting at a time when many were heralding its death. he has produced a remarkably varied body of work, including photography-based portrait, landscape and still-life paintings; gestural and monochrome abstractions; and color chart grid paintings.

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