Yesterday Gerhard Richter: Panorama opened to the public.

Gerhard Richter Mark Godfrey Nicholas Serota

Tate curator Mark Godfrey, artist Gerhard Richter and Tate Director Nicholas Serota looking at Richter’s Court Chapel, Dresden 2000 seen through Richter’s 6 Panes of Glass in a Rack 2002–11

Courtesy Bettina and Donald L. Bryant Jr Collection, The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, USA and Private Collection
© Gerhard Richter

It was really amazing to go up into the galleries after all the hard work of the last two weeks (and two years) and to see so many people looking at the show. It has been a wonderful few days: the artist came for the opening, and was very pleased to see how the installation had turned out. 

Gerhard Richter Barn Meadowland and Abstract Painting

Installation view of Gerhard Richter’s paintings, from left; Barn 1984, Meadowland1985 and Abstract Painting 726 1990

© Gerhard Richter courtesy The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, USA and Tate. Photograph: Lucy Dawkins, Tate Photography

Long term friends, curators who have made important shows with him, studio assistants, dedicated and passionate collectors of his work - all these people were here to celebrate the opening. On Wednesday we had a packed out talk by the art historian Benjamin Buchloh, who has written on his work since 1977 - a talk which looked in great detail at Richter’s responses to painters like Lucio Fontana, Jean Fautrier, and Robert Rauschenberg in 1962. And yesterday we screened Corinna Belz’s film ‘Gerhard Richter Painting’ in which (amongst other things) she shows Richter in the act of painting the large horizontal white abstract painting in the 13th room of our show. (This will be screened regularly during the show - check the website for details). 

Gerhard Richter a visitor walks by Forest

A visitor walks by Gerhard Richter’s Forest (3) 1990 and Forest (4) 1990

Private collection and The Fisher Collection, San Francisco
© Gerhard Richter Photographt: Lucy Dawkins, Tate Photography

I am looking forward to people coming to the show but also to being a viewer myself, and getting to spend so much time with the work. Each time I walk through the show, more questions come to mind: what different painterly techniques did Richter work with in 1962 and 1963 to achieve the strange surfaces of the first paintings in the show such as Table and Dead, all made before he began to ‘blur’ his photopaintings? Did Richter know much about Leni Riefenstahl when he painted Negroes (Nuba) in 1964, based on one of her images of the Nuba (Room 1), and if so, what of it? How much was he thinking about recent American abstraction when he made the weird small abstract paintings in Room 2? How was it that he came to paint a Moonscape in Room 3 the year before the moon landing? How odd are the colours of the skies in the Cloud triptych in Room 5, which I did not see in the flesh before last week? How can we think about the early 1980s abstracts in Room 6, where Richter placed geometric shapes next to brash brushstrokes? The arguments that these are mere parodies of painting miss the mark as much as the suggestions that they are spontaneous expressions of painterly joy… 

Gerhard Richter Abstract Painting

Gerhard Richter’s ‘Abstract Painting’ (1997)


© Gerhard Richter. Collection High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Gerhard Richter Betty and Chinon

Installation view of two works by Gerhard Richter at Tate Modern. Left: ‘Betty’ (1988) and right ‘Chinon’ (1987)

© Gerhard Richter. Courtesy Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis and Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France. Photograph: Lucy Dawkins, Tate Photography

How exactly does Richter peel paint off the surface of an abstraction such as Abstract Painting (above) on view in Room 10 and expose an underlayer in such a pristine way? How does he prepare an aluminium surface before beginning to paint on it for the 858 paintings (Room 10)? These are questions I will be discussing with our painting conservator, Rachel Barker, on this blog in a few weeks. 

Why is it that the subjects of so many of his portraits since the 1980s - not just Betty (above) -  were looking away from the camera when the photos on which the portraits were taken were made, and what does it mean - as we look at the paintings - that they averted their gaze? What could we make of the connections between these portraits and the glass works where we, as viewers, are portrayed, but always as ghostly reflections? What might we make of the range of photographs that have been the basis for the photopaintings of the last ten years - photos of flowers, of the World Trade Centre attacks, of his daughter Ella? For me, one of the great pleasures of curating is to open up these questions in such a way that they can be considered in front of the works rather than in the lecture hall or with a book in your hands. So please let me know your thoughts - and check back to this blog where I’ll be giving some tentative responses as the weeks go by.

Mark Godfrey is co-curator of Gerhard Richter: Panorama

Comments

Daniel

The exhibition was mind melting! Expertly curated, the works shown gave real insight into both Richter's versatility and artistic development -be it photo realism or abstract painting. Did exactly as a retrospective should. Thanks!

Sue

I loved it - a complete newcomer to his work, but the Grey paintings were wonderful - odd that I should in an exhibition where there were so many explosions of colour on the abstract works ! And the candle too......... wonderful.

Filippos

I was at the Richter symposium last week and I must say that I was blown away by some of the contributions. All participants had real interesting approaches and viewpoints but there were a few that, for me at least, were mesmerizing such as Julia Friedrich's talk on Richter's Greys, Mark's own talk and, of course, Kaja Silvermann's keynote speech, which left me speechless.

My question to Mark would be if there are any initiatives to publish those inputs in any form in the near future, in a sort of a symposium pamphlet or mini publication. I am assuming this is quite a difficult thing to do since some of the talks form part of still-in-progress PhD works but I thought I should ask. I would really like to get the chance to reread/reexamine some of this material and especially the aforementioned ones.

Paul Steeples

In an odd way, his work reminded me of Damien Hirst. Not in terms of quality or subject matter, but in sheer variety of approach and technique. And like Hirst, some of it I really liked (the grey monochrome paintings, the clouds, skulls and candles, the Baader Meinhof pictures, the little late abstracts) and some just left me cold (the panes of glass, the colour charts, the silver ball, the early abstracts). But on the whole I thought it was a great show - my only gripe was that I didn't find out that I'd missed the Cage pictures until I'd left the Tate, and will now need to find time to come back.

Jenny Wickham

I enjoyed the Gerhard Richter exhibition much more than I thought I would. I did not know anything about him as an artist but I was particularly interested in his blurring of the boundaries between painting and photography - for example, a work which was a photograph of a painting of a photograph of his uncle, and paintings which had a photographic quality, as well as photographs augmented with paint. These appealed to me much more than the daub and drag paintings, though that technique was used to good effect in the painting of the twin towers on 9/11. The political issue of confronting Germany's wartime past was also every interesting.

Stephen Nortcliff

Having seen only a limited range of Richter's work before I found this exhibition a revelation. The diversity and contrasts were fascinating. I watched the film afterwards, which was excellent and added to my enjoyment.

Brian Conway-Smith

Superb! Frankly for me the best exhibition of the year.

Julie Bowdler

Really enjoyed the exhibition. I had previously seen a lot of photograph-based paintings (which I admire) but none of the abstracts and these too were impressive.

Doug Powell

We really loved it! Our only disappointment was that the shop seems to have run out of some of the prints avilable for purchase - and particularly the one we wanted to buy!!

Julian H M

I though it was a great array of works from his beginnings up to where Gerhard Richter is now. Great insight and the audio guide did really support and inform as well. The only point considering for the future might be multi-lingual audio guides :)

Laura

I am new to Ritcher's art but I was very impressed by his ability to combine colours and forms, usind different materials. I am mostly impressed by his abstract vision of reality and I will definitely go back before the end of the exhibition.

RitaJones

I have just started an Access course into Art & Design, and therefore, at 50 yrs old, am learning all about various artists. Mr. Richter's exhibition was like something I have never seen before, it really excited me so I had to go around twice in order to calmly take in every aspect of his work. Thank you for making this fantastic work accessible for me and others to view.

James

Fabulous. loved it ... such diverse talent

Rolfe

I knew nothing about Richter and the exhibition was a revelation. I admired most of all the sheer versatility of the artist, moving from representation to abstract to photopainting to blurry works to solid objects to riots of colour to monochrome - and then back again! I loved it. I had no problem with the way the paintings were displayed and I found the audio guide most helpful, in fact I don't think I wd have appreciated the show without it, although it was up its own ar*e on a couple of occasions.

But what Cage paintings???

Peter Maher

I loved the variety of his work and his technical ability. Not impressed by the squeegee works though

Emeka Njodi

Some friend's recommended the retrospective and I went along completely new to Richter's work.

It was a fascinating introduction to a remarkable artist - technically sublime and conceptually inspiring.

Would thoroughly recommend.

Dr.Ernst Muigg

Einem deutschen Jahrhundermaler kann ich nur in deutsch begegnen. Ich habe seinerzeit die RICHTER Ausstellung in Düsseldorf gesehen. Ich bin nur wegen seiner Ausstellung in der TATE nach LONDON geflogen. Nur ein Wort dazu : WOW !!!!!!!! Sorry , Mr. Max LUNDY , that you forget my wish , to buy the rare print of GR . Hätte mir in meiner EDITION Sammlung noch gefehlt . Hätte sich wunderbar neben POLKE , WEST , Bleckner und BASELITZ u.a. gemacht.

Dr.Ernst M

Katya Bauer

Is there any chance of the exhibition travelling to New York's Metropolitan or MoMA?

Shirley Stankiewicz

I thought it was phenomenal. I've made a habit of coming down to London for the 'blockbusters' - Bacon, Van Gogh, Gaughin etc but this was the best yet. It was like looking at the work of three seperate people - the early smudged photographic work, the Vermeer-like 'Betty' and the colourful squeegees - the versatility the sign of a truly great artist. And Sea-Sea must be one of my favourite artworks. Beautiful. Well done!

Veronica Henry

At the weekend, I went to the Gerhard Richter exhibition at Tate Modern. I was blown away, not only by the richness and variation of his work, but also his methodology: sometimes planned and ordered, sometimes random - sometimes both. It made me think long and hard about the way I write, and it occurred to me that the one quality all his work had, however it was generated, was confidence. Here is a man who knows what he is capable of and who is not afraid to experiment and take risks, but at the same time is very definite about what he has to say. Whatever image he ends up with, his voice is always loud and clear. It made me realise that confidence is the most important item in the writer's toolbox. With confidence, you can write what you like and how you like, instead of slavishly following a formula. Confidence, of course, comes with experience, but the danger there is that one becomes complacent instead of pushing the boundaries. Something that Richter was clearly never afraid to do. And that is when genius emerges: when talent and confidence and craft combine with risk. I came away totally inspired.

marco northlan

I had a hard time following the exhibition thus not fully enjoying when visited. I also missed seeing some great work. He is terrific anyway and just look forward to another exhibition of his work

sandra cavey

what a wonderful exhibition. What struck me was the development of styles of work over a period of time , each exciting and always exploratory.

Craig Beaty

Many superlatives can fit the show ( whichever ones are in fashion, "amazing" or "astounding" probably would fit well). Defn worth traveling from San Francisco to attend. Not difficult to fathom why he is possibly the most important post war artist going. Quick rush out and see!

Serena Hodgson

Having preceeded my several visits to the exhibition with the fascinating talk by Benjamin Buchloh, I have not once failed to be amazed and excited by this superb Richter retrospective. Yesterday I brought two friends with me who knew little of his work before their visit. The abstracts fascinated them, the 'Cages' being the favourites followed by Toilet Paper Roll!! (They did comment that a sound track of John Cage compositions would be a beneficial addition to the Cage room). For me the juxtaposition of the two glass works (6 Panes of Glass in A Rack and 11 Panes) with the Silicate paintings in Room 12 says so much about Richter's life long questioning of truth of sight/vision - fascinating.

anonymous

no.

Julia

I am an Art History student in NL currently working on a term paper concerning Richter´s artwork in regard to the debate about desinterested aesthetics. This exhibition has become the highlight of my research in so far, that it finally allows the approach to place the October cycle within Richter´s oeuvre - to take his body of work for what it is and to free it from clinching all too closely to convention. Thus it enables me (and hopefully many other visitors) to see and apprechiate Richters art on a new level. Unfortunately, I have not been able to attend Buchloh´s talk, which I assume was an event of fruitful re-consideration. Best Julia

Eve Wade

I first became familiar with Gerhard Richter's work at an exhibition at the Haus der Kunst in Munich seen some years ago. From that point on, I became a faithful follower of his work. Some of the paintings in the exhibition at The Tate seemed like old friends that I met again after a long period of time.

I particularly love the blurry photographic style paintings and would love to know how the artist gets this effect! However, my favourite painting is called Wiese which I believe was painted in or around Baden Baden.

Very many thanks for a wonderful exhibition and film.

Eve Wade

CB

I was most taken by how freely he moved between, and combined, media, art as pure play and experimentation (not political statement - not even the Bader Meinhof paintings), and struck by what beautiful images he achieved through, e.g., fiddling around with puddles of oil and a camera. Cage's words kept creeping back into mind - I didn't actually feel Richter was trying to make a point about anything, he was just playing, not to prove a point, but sincerely following his nose. Which is GREAT. But the audioguide and text seemed determine to find underlying meaning in everything. It is rare that an exhibition of this scale and importance is by a LIVING artist - I know he is a man of few words, but why could we not have had Richter on Richter, instead of Nicholas Serota's (speculated)ruminations? And it was rather cramped. Betty and Ella each needed their own wall, and yellow stripe could not really be appreciated high up next to the escalators, with no clear vantage point for viewing...still, it has been a real privilege to see so much of his work in one place.

Liz Chubb

Loved it. I like the way that he is so adept at so many different styles and responds well to the contemporary world around him. It was so inspiring - I have been twice

Piers Dudgeon

I had not seen anything by Richter before, but am researching the impressionists, Camille Pissarro in particular, at the moment, and someone said I should go. Richter fascinates in his variety and in his use of the frame as a portal on his impressions of 'reality'. He blew me away. I took my daughter. She liked Betty.

Richard Kirby

I'm afraid the purely abstract canvases simply baffled me. However, the paintings with representational qualities were often very beautiful indeed. I enjoyed the homage to Vermeer, for instance. The most affecting piece was the one confronting 9/11: most disquieting without being in any way sensational.

Jan

I guess the work reflects a lot of his early life and spending your youth in Dresden can't have been easy but despite the grey I noticed there always seemed to be a bright spot, like a ray of hope, and some of the first abstracts were so vibrant. Also found it really surprising how he could switch from abstract form to amazingly good portraits. It was the small illustration in the news letter that made me want to visit the exhibition and I was glad I made the effort.

Geoff Morse

I was aware of Gerhard Richter's status in the pantheon of the contemorary artwold but was not very familiar with his work. I only became enthusiasticlly aware after seeing the exhibition of his shall I say photorealist? portaits at the National Portrait Gallery about three years ago. I think I was hooked as they say. So I very much looked forward to this extensive exhibition at the Tate Modern. I was not dissapointed.I think I could be descibed as something of a sceptic with certain aspects of the contemporary art scene. Not with Mr Ritcher's work clearly a virtuoso of technique this gives him in to my eyes (literally) the ability to explore any avenue of image making he thinks is required to explore the the things he has seen and experienced during a long life during one of the most turbulent centuries ever. Sure enough he does just that in this exhibition and with great sucess.For me the figurative paintings were the ones that communicated to me the most. I did enjoy (surprisingly) the large abstracts in the final room they meant nothing other than beautiful colour manipulated with great artifice and a feast to the eye-and that is enough. The exhibition was beautifully mounted and designed and a triumph all round for Mr Richer and of course for the Tate. If one has any sort of interest in art-do not miss this exhibition.

Bob Schiff

I thought the show was excellent. There was a great balance between his abstract and representational work. It would be great if the guides given as you enter special exhibitions had images to make the guides have a post exhibition use.

Rosangela Schei...

Gostaria de me apresentar, meu nome é Rosangela Scheithauer, artista plástica, brasileira, há muitos anos residindo e trabalhando em Viena (Austria). Conheca um pouco do meu trabalho - veja este video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wECnLzH97Ag

Um abraco

Rosangela Scheithauer

Ben

The Richter exhibition was off the scale! Fantastic to see such a great collection of work brought together - well done Tate

Rosangela Schei...

I am a Brazilian Artist living/working in Vienna (Austria). I would LOVE to see Richter`s Exhibition... but like "most" artists I am very short of money. Would anyone be willing to sponsor my trip to London to see it???? That would be my best Christmas Present ever!!!!!

Here a video of my work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wECnLzH97Ag

Hope you all like my work. It´s a pleasure to show it here where so many people who really understands about art are now looking at.

Rosangela Scheithauer

Rosangela Schei...

May I introduce myself, I am a Brazilian Artist living and working in Vienna-Austria. Please have a look at a short video where you will see part of what I have been doing recently: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wECnLzH97Ag Thank you. I would be very pleased to hear from you and have your opinion of my work.

Rosangela Scheithauer

James Barry

I found the overpainted 4x6 photographs of his family in Room 11 the most revealing

Hugo Loning

I travelled to London mainly to see this exhibition. It was great to see so many of my favourite Richter paintings that I only know from pictures. I think the exhibition was a beautiful retrospective of his work throughout the years. One of the best exhibitions I have seen in a long time. Thanks for that.

John Greene

Gerhard Richter is one of the greatest living contemporary painters and over the last fifty years has consistently produced a series of delicate and subtle musings on the vibrancy and ambiguity of paint as a medium. Richter's abilities are there for all to see in this show.

An excellent retrospective and a great tribute to a man who occupies one of the highest spots in any contemporary painting consideration.

Geoff

Loved Richter, hated the space. I've been a tate member for many years and this was probably the most frustrating exhibition I've ever been to. Far too cramped which did detract from the work. Left annoyed.

J

This a letter sent to Tate:

Dear Sir/Madam

I thought I would consolidate some feedback that I have been party to, from a number of associates in the Art and Design fields. All have visited Tate Modern's Gerhard Richter exhibition, and without consultation have unanimously arrived at the same conclusion - it is far too cramped.

Given the eminence of Tate, exhibition planning must be well-executed, and devised. But one would have thought overlapping Taryn Simon and Richter a huge mistake. All you need do is walk between both and take stock of the visitor numbers.

Surely an artist of Richter's stature demands more breathing space, and to some extent respect and patronage. Giving over so much floor space to Taryn Simon's rather repetitive research project seems entirely wrong.

Many have waited a long time for this Richter retrospective. Tate has let them all down.

Regards

farzin sebastia...

A great exhibition of an absolute master painter and a wonderful journey through his development as an artist! Sadly the galleries are looking particlularly shabby and tired (dirty paintwork and floor, cracks in walls...) and the lighting left a great deal to be desired; the Cage room was very unsuccessful, almost an after thought, and needed a geat deal more attention given to the presentation of the paintings that lost so much in the confrontational way they were presented... And signage was poor for the portraits which one could easily have missed.

angie h

Fantastic exhibition. I did not know any of Gerhard Richter's work but both my sister Kate and I were blown away by it. Go and see it before it finishes!

Silvina Monroy

What do I think? I only wish I was in London now!!!! I´m an Argentine painter living in Buenos Aires, unfortunately unable to see the exhibition at Tate. No doubt it is an absolute must!!!

John Woolley

Absolutely loved it. Such a wide ranging talent

Clare Burns

I came to this exhibition with no knowledge of Richter, and having only seen a few of his pictures in a newspaper review. I really enjoyed the experience, as the paintings were technically superb and varied, and the subject matter ranged from the personal and very poignant to the entirely abstract, at all times intriguing and thought-provoking. My personal favourites were the blurred picture of the mother an child in one of the early rooms, where the blurring adds depth and plasticity to the bodies. It also to me added distance between the viewer and the subjects which were sharing a warm and intimate moment by making you feel as if you were rushing by in a fast-moving vehicle. This picture was one of several which played with classical imagery and the immediacy of photography. Of the abstracts, the Cage room was one of my favourite groupings, and I agree with a previous reviewer that Cage's music in that room would have made a wonderful experience sublime. My one real criticism is that there needs to be better signage when leaving the main sequence of rooms, as it is too easy to get distracted by the cafe (a cynical ploy?) and lose momentum and continuity. Overall though, thoroughly recommended.

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