Gerhard Richter (b. 1932 - )


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German artist Gerhard Richter was born in Dresden and brought up in the remote countryside of present-day Poland, where his teacher father could avoid excessive contact with the Nazi authorities. Upon leaving school in what had then become communist East Germany, Richter initially worked as a signage painter before studying at nearby Dresden Academy of Art.

Later, whilst working as a teacher at the Dresden Academy, Richter took several commissions for the communist East German government – executed in the proscribed state-style known as Socialist Realism. Only a few months before the erection of the infamous Berlin Wall he was brave enough and lucky enough to escape the communist East for free West Berlin. Settling in Düsseldorf and continuing his studies at the city’s Fine Arts academy, Richter met the artist Sigmar Polke (1941-2010) and, in 1963, together they inaugurated the Kapitalistischer Realismus (or Capitalist Realism) group – a cutting-edge German variant of Pop Art.

Despite a prolific career, variously employing abstraction, sculpture and performance, today Richter is best known for his ‘photorealist’ paintings that mimic mechanical and digital reproduction, images that question the nature of perception in the age of ‘postmodern’ reality.

On September 11th 2001, Richter was flying to New York City but was diverted to Canada. Exploring the trauma of that infamous day - endlessly captured on film and camera – he created September: A History Painting by Gerhard Richter that sought to highlight the confused blurring of personal experience with mass media reportage. His iconic body of work is often immediately recognisable and skilfully distils the ‘condition’ and nature of contemporary life.

Exhibiting widely across Europe and the United Stated since the early 1960s, Richter’s work is highly coveted at auction and held in international museums across the world. Most recently his work was shown in solo exhibitions at Tate Modern in London (2011), Centre Pompidou in Paris (2012) and the Neue National Galerie in Berlin (2012).
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