This week we have been installing the show. It is the most exciting and exhausting part of the project. 150 works are put up in five days. Before installing, we have planned which works go into which rooms. Only two works have changed rooms. But composing which paintings go on which walls of a given room, and in which order, and how far apart, and at what height. This is the challenge…
Sometimes the order is obvious and it is a matter of fine spacing. Other times the art handlers are asked to move paintings about the room into every configuration until one seems right. The art handlers do the most amazing job - patient and meticulous.
Of course we, as curators, learn more and more about Richter’s work as each crate is unpacked. My highlight was when we opened a medium sized abstract painting from the early 80s. The images we had seen in the catalogues were way too dull. When I began working on the show, I really disliked this phase of Richter’s career but now it’s among my favourite moments. The rose pinks and blues in this painting are stunning and there is the same complex array of brushwork and impasto as in the others from this time.
One work, Hedge, is a really lyrical painting. But the more and more works we’ve put up, the more brutal an artist Richter has seemed to me. The three clouds are oppressive, not ethereal. His glass sculptures are stark and cold. Abstract paintings are gouged and scratched at. Then there is the sombreness of the Baader Meinhof series. Richter’s work is never simply pleasurable and I think this brutal character of the work will come across well in the show. Let me know if you agree.