Gerhard Richter: The Life of Images

GOMA Gerhard Richter portrait

Widely considered one of the world’s most influential living artists, Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) presents the first major exhibition in Australia of work by German artist Gerhard Richter, now on show until 4 February 2018.

Over more than half a century, Richter has demonstrated a remarkable command of diverse art forms, in particular painting. In his career-long exploration of the relationship between painting and photography, the artist reveals the potent currency of the reproduced image.

His works encompass realism based on photographs and magazine cuttings, large-scale abstracts produced by dragging layers of paint across the canvas, Romantic landscapes and overpainted photographs. This willingness to experiment marks him as a significant force in the revitalisation of painting in contemporary art. Richter has responded to traumatic events in history – including World War Two and the horror of the Holocaust – and has invested all manner of images, both public and private, with a deeply personal visual language.

Curated locally by Dr Rosemary Hawker, Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, Griffith University and Geraldine Kirrihi Barlow, Curatorial Manager, International Art – QAGOMA with input from the artist himself, Gerhard Richter: The Life of Images features works from public and private collections in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia, including the artist’s own collection.

The exhibition profiles an artist whose sustained and influential practice has both rejected and embraced tradition, at the same time as confirming painting’s mystery and durability as an art form, and is organised around characteristic themes and forms of Richter’s art that he has returned to, in different ways, throughout his career.

Richter’s oeuvre includes painting, photography, drawing, sculpture, installation, film, digital printing and tapestry, as well as reproduced, editioned works. Among the artworks are the iconic portraits Reader (804) 1994 and Ella (903-1) 2007, still-life paintings including Two candles (499-4) 1982 and Orchid (848-9) 1997, and the evocative landscape Meadowland (572-4) 1985. The four panels of Birkenau (937-1–4) 2014, monumental abstracts painted over chilling photographic images taken in Nazi extermination camps, grapple with the national and global trauma of the Holocaust.

The exhibition is built along the spine of a long room devoted to ATLAS Overview – an extensive 400-panel extract from Richter’s encyclopaedic archival project ATLAS, 1962-ongoing – a collection of photographs, sketches, collages and cuttings that he has drawn on for his paintings throughout his career. ATLAS reflects Richter’s deep interest in the currency of images, and the artist has personally nominated and arranged the selection of images on display at GOMA.

Gerhard Richter: The Life of Images reveals the scope of Gerhard Richter’s extraordinary output across six decades and captures the breadth and technical virtuosity of a creative practice operating between the twin poles of realism and abstraction,” ays Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) Director, Chris Saines. “Through the artworks we encounter Richter’s endless variation of technique and inventiveness as a painter.”

Gerhard Richter: The Life of Images
Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), Cultural Precinct, South Bank (Brisbane)
Exhibition continues to 4 February 2018
Admission fees apply

For more information, visit: www.qagoma.qld.gov.au for details.

Image: Gerhard Richter 1993 © Gerhard Richter 2017

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