My tutor suggested I get hold of one of Gerhard Richter’s books ‘The Daily Practice of Painting’ specifically to read about how Richter treated photographic references in his work. Whilst he acknowledged that it is an expensive book to buy, my tutor suggested I might be able to get hold of it through the OCA library or other University libraries. I have done a lot of digging about and sent many emails to various Uni’s but not getting anywhere with regards trying to borrow a copy. It is in the region of £60 to buy (excluding postage) – and that’s a used copy. My tutor also suggested another book by Richter – ‘Texts’ which is more affordable but still out of my budget at the moment. I am also wary of laying out large amounts of cash for books that I haven’t first had a tertiary browse through. I will try and get access to Richter’s books through a library after the lock-down measures have been relaxed. Even our local Norwich library may have a copy as they have an extensive art books catalog but this can only be accessed post-pandemic situation.
In the meantime, I watched the video where Richter is interviewed in his studio – the link I was given was to Richter’s website but it is also available on YouTube.
I have mixed feelings about this video, and many commentators on YouTube echo my thoughts about the interviewer, his questions and attitude. I have since then watched several more YouTube videos – some included interviews.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yF6EluMNR14 Gerhard Richter Painting
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7Zbpz1Rjjw Gerhard Richter – the Painter without a brush
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFDRGJDwWLw Gerhard Richter – paintings from the 80’s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-HaihDRBO0 Gerhard Richter – in art we find beauty and comfort (subtitles)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCE2BWIq1aY Gerhard Richter – Painting After All (Meet Exhibitions)
With regards finding written infomation about Richter’s painting process – I came upon some information on his own website discussing the Baader-Meinhof set of paintings.
By using photographic source material and his painterly modification of these sources, Richter was revisiting a method that had dominated his early works. After choosing a section of the photograph, he depicts the subjects with accuracy but also using his discretion. Following this he blurs the imagery using a variety of techniques, thereby creating paintings that are reminiscent of out-of-focus black-and-white photographs.
There is a written discussion around the three paintings of Ulrike Meinhof Dead [CR: 667/1-3]
I am still battling to understand Richter’s ethics in making these paintings of the B-M group. I understand that it was a distressing time in German history and appalling for the media to publish images of them shortly after death. Also, they died in prison under somewhat suspicious circumstances, which I suppose is par for the times. Despite all that, I don’t feel that they deserved any special treatment – they were mass murderers, thugs and robbers, operating under the guise of political activism. I don’t feel that the adage ‘one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’ applies to them, so I can’t understand why Richter would be so obsessed with painting them after they were dead. It doesn’t seem to have been to martyr them, or provide them with any kind of obvious eulogy. If was to highlight the savagery or futility of their campaigns, I find it a bit disturbing.
Despite all of my reservations around the ethics involved with the making of these paintings, I am still fascinated with the process Richter employed in blurring the images out. I am extremely myopic, I can blur anything quite easily just by taking my glasses off. When I look at the first painting of Ulrike Meinhof by Richter’s without my glasses, it looks like the third one in his series. This is doing my head in a bit.