Gerhard Richter is one of the world’s most important living artists. During a career spanning almost 50 years, the astonishing range of his work has become a defining characteristic, with painting at the centre of his development, but Gerhard Richter has routinely produced editions since 1965. As a result, the editioned works: prints, photographs, objects, paintings, artist’s books, and more, form an important group within the artist’s complex oeuvre.
By Efi Michalarou
Photo: Museum Folkwang Archive
The exhibition “Gerhard Richter-The Editions” at the Museum Folkwang brings together all 173 of Richter’s editions for the first time and thus provides a unique overview of his more than 50 years of extensive artistic work and his astonishing diversity of style, also Richter created his new edition “Schädel” (2017), for this exhibition. Through his editions, Richter explores the possibilities of a variety of media and genres. In doing so, he also continually interrogates his own self-conception as an artist: “Sometimes I feel that I should not call myself a painter but a producer of images. I’m more interested in images than in painting”. As Richter’s work as a painter has undergone repeated transformations, his editions have also reflected his stylistic range. The exhibition contains 12 sections, each with a different thematic focus, which explore Richter’s themes, concepts, and artistic strategies. This approach gives a perspective on his entire work, in all its complexity, including his early prints, his landscapes and portraits, his many varieties of abstraction, and the digitally produced “Strips” of the 2010s. A number of the museum’s galleries and spaces are given over to the large-scale tapestries “Abdu, Iblan, Musa, and Yusuf” (2009) and the graphic series “Elbe” and “November” (both 2012). The idea of collecting material for images and storing it for possible future use is one of Richter’s characteristic methods. In addition to family portraits and photographs from newspapers and magazines the artist repeatedly uses his own snapshots as the starting point for new artwork. Richter has repeatedly addressed the theme of uniqueness within seriality. This goes all the way back to his first multiple,”Hund” (1965), where he individually smudged the ink, still wet from printing, on each of the eight impressions. In a similar way, Richter worked on each print of the edition “Sils” (2015) after they were produced, this time with a pencil. With his painted editions too, Richter has turned each version into a unique specimen.
Info: Museum Folkwang, Museumsplatz 1, Essen, Duration: 7/4-30/7/17, Days & Hours: Tue-Wed & Sat-Sun 10:00-18:00, Thu-Fri 10:00-20:00, www.museum-folkwang.de