Gerhard Richter. Overpainted Photographs
The exhibition at Albertinumshows a selection of Gerhard Richter’s Overpainted Photographs for the first time in Dresden. 36 of the selected works come from the holdings of the Gerhard Richter Kunststiftung, founded by the artist in 2019; 36 additional works are loans from private collections.
Gerhard Richters Œuvre
Gerhard Richter’s oeuvre from the past six decades is shaped by a dialogue and a confrontation between figurative and abstract visual strategies. In no other workseries by the artist do the two styles enter into a symbiosis like the one in the small-format Overpainted Photographs. Richter began these works in 1986. All the formats exhibited are unusually small, each approximately 10 × 15 cm.
In 1991 Gerhard Richter commented on the creation of these works:
Photography has almost no reality; it is almost a hundred per cent picture. And painting always has reality: you can touch the paint; it has presence; but it always yields a picture – no matter whether good or bad. That’s all theory. It’s no good. I once took small photographs and then smeared them with paint. That partly resolved the problem, and it’s really good – better than anything I could ever say on the subject.
Standard photographs usually taken by the artist himself and developed at an ordinary photo lab serve as the foundation for these works. The shots themselves are entirely lacking in artistic quality. They are snapshot motifs of family celebrations and excursions, people, landscapes, or architectures, including a view of Dresden.
The Overpainted Photographs are closely linked to his painterly oeuvre. After his daily work on the large paintings in the studio, Richter pulled these photographs through the remaining wet paint on the squeegee. In this way, the result of this action is strongly determined by coincidence and surprising new realities emerge. With the declared end of his painterly work in 2017, Gerhard Richter also concluded work on the Overpainted Photographs.