Go See – Middlesbrough, England: Gerhard Richter at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, through November 15, 2009

October 28th, 2009

Untitled, Gerhard Richter (1985) via mima

Currently on show, through November 15, at Middlesbrough’s Institute of Modern Art (mima), is Gerhard Richter: Modern Times. Gerhard Richter is undoubtedly one of the most significant artists of our time; with works held by almost every major museum in the world, and is said to have brought ‘painting back to life.’  This exhibition covers all aspects of the artist’s complex practice and is particularly important as it includes unique works in many different media. Gerhard Richter: Modern Times comes close on the heels of a number of exhibitions that have widened the public’s view of Richter including a major retrospective at The National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, a groundbreaking survey of his portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, London, and the unforgettable 4900 Colours: Version II at the Serpentine Gallery in London.

11 Schieben [11 Panes], Gerhard Richter (2004) via mima

More Text and related links after the jump….

48 Portraits, Gerhard Richter (1971 – 1972) via The National Gallery of Scotland

The exhibition draws on ARTIST ROOMS – a touring collection of international contemporary art created through one of the largest and most imaginative gifts of art ever made to museums in Britain – that of the British art dealer Anthony d’Offay. In light of expanding artist’s exposure in Britain, ARTIST ROOMS on Tour with The Art Fund, has been devised to take those displays beyond the collection’s owners, Tate and National Galleries of Scotland, and to reach and inspire new audiences across the country.

The 725 works in the collection have been guided by the concept of individual rooms devoted to particular artists and included major bodies of work by seminal figures Diane Arbus, Joseph Beuys, Gilbert & George, Damien Hirst, Anselm Kiefer, Jeff Koons, Robert Mapplethorpe, Ed Ruscha and Andy Warhol.

Eckspiegel, Braun-Blau (Corner Mirror, Brown-Blue), Gerhard Richter (1991) via gerhardrichter.com

Gerhard Richter: Modern Times comprises of four distinctly themed rooms. Room 1 presents a meditative installation of monochrome and abstract works, including Eckspiegel, braun-blau, (corner mirror, brown-blue). Like mirrors, their uniform surface is only broken by random interventions such as the reflection of visitors to the gallery.

Zwei Skulpturen für einem Raum von Palermo (Two Sculptures for a Room by Palermo), Gerhard Richter (1971) via gerhardrichter.com

Room 2 houses Zwei Skulpturen für einem Raum von Palermo (Two Sculptures for a Room by Palermo); one of the very few sculptures ever made by Gerhard Richter, the work consists of two plaster heads, painted with grey oil paint, one a self-portrait of Richter, the other a portrait of the German artist Blinky Palermo. One of the most written about and referred to works in Richter’s oeuvre, it has rarely been exhibited.

Abstraktes Bild, Gerhard Richter (1994) via The National Gallery of Scotland

Room 3 showcases a number of abstract paintings which relate to a series of works in which he paints images from photographs but blurs them slightly to remove the focus from their composition and subject matter. An example in this exhibition is Abstraktes Bild, a painting created by dragging a board over the canvas to smear the paint and reveal the layers underneath. In other words, he ‘blurs’ what he himself has painted.

Self Portrait Standing, Three Times, Gerhard Richter (1991) via gerhardrichter.com

Also in this room is, Self-portrait Standing, Three Times, a rare excursion into depicting his own appearance by the normally reclusive artist. As well as painting canvases based on photographic images since 1989, Richter has also painted actual photographs to create works. In doing so, he has emphasized the surface reality of the pain interacting with the forms in the photographs. Self-portrait Standing, Three Times poignantly it depicts the artist looking backwards in a series of six photographic stills each one gradually erasing the artist with gradations of crimson paint.

Gilbert, George, Gerhard Richter (1975) via The National Gallery of Scotland

Mima is perhaps most highlighting, however, about room 4 of the exhibition which presents a series of thirty rarely seen drawings, combining both abstract and figurative works and offering a remarkable insight into the artist.  Included in this room is Gilbert, George: a dual portrait of the British artists (aka. Gilbert Proesch and George Passmore) who became known in the late 1960s as ‘living sculptures’, dressing in similar tweed suits and doing everything together. In 1975, on the occasion of a show in Düsseldorf, Gilbert and George commissioned Richter to make a portrait of them. Richter made eight paintings in all, using superimposed photographs of the duo in order to suggest their inseparable mutually beneficial identity.


Abstraktes, Gerhard Richter via gerhardrichter.com

Related Links:
Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art
Gerhard Richter Homepage
Exhibitions Preview: Gerhard Richter in Middlesbrough
ARTIST ROOMS: Gerhard Richter [TateOnline]
ARTIST ROOMS [The National Gallery of Scotland]

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