This month in New York, David Zwirner presents a body of new works by the German master Gerhard Richter, comprising a range of practices, techniques and materials that underscore the artist’s breadth and depth. On view from March 16–April 29, 2023, at 537 West 20th Street in New York,the exhibition presents a group of Richter’s last paintings, made in 2016–2017; a number of these abstract oil paintings will be shown here for the first time. Though Richter completed his last paintings in 2017, his dynamic practice continues his artistic inquiries into the possibilities of abstraction and perception through his ongoing experimentation with drawing, printing and sculpture.
Throughout, one encounters a summary of the artist’s practice over the past several decades. There’s his immediately familiar paintings incorporating squeegee and other gestures to scrape and remove layers of paint from the canvas surface, leaving dense layers of marks and gestures. There’s also a series of hazy pencil drawings on paper, clouds of graphite separated by precise lines and jagged edges. In a third room, one can browse a series of inkjet prints from a series titled mood, whorls and clouds of rich color that conjure immediate emotion and gesture while also alluding to the early color paintings by the artist.
Centrally featured in the exhibition is 3 Scheiben (3 Panes of Glass) (2023), a new glass sculpture created this year that comprises three sequential rectangular panes of transparent yet reflective glass—each one positioned upright and measuring almost ten feet in height. The installation invites viewers to look at, through, and beyond its surface, revealing the inherently subjective and situational nature of observed reality. The installation in New York belongs to a later body of work comprising groups of freestanding transparent glass panes. Richter began creating these installations in 2002, beginning with 4 Stehende Scheiben (4 Standing Panes), now in the collection of the Lenbachhaus, Munich. When viewed head-on, the image that is visible through the glass becomes increasingly distorted, dimmed, and opaque as it passes through each successive panel.
Constantly experimenting with perception and space, color and form, the show once again underscores Richter’s central place in the discourse of contemporary art. It closed April 29th.
– D. Creahan
David Zwirner [Exhibition Site]