Corinna Belz’s documentary is an unprecedented and oddly dangerous journey into the studios of Gerhard Richter, widely considered among the world’s most important living painters. Famously cranky and iconoclastic, Richter is an ideal subject to illuminate the deep fissures in the contemporary art world. His career has been a high-wire balancing act between eye-popping, colourful abstractions — seen in start-to-finish construction throughout much of the film — and enormously famous photorealist portraiture. He has also been an influential essayist on the subject of art-making and its place in the world.
Though we see the 79-year-old artist engaging in the world at large — talking with his legendary gallerist Marian Goodman, being feted at London’s National Portrait Gallery, speaking with critics and collaborators — the bulk of the film lives in his places of work: giant studios, with taciturn assistants preparing toxic brews and giant canvasses for Richter to attack. But the artist is no fan of the camera. Pithy, staccato barbs usher forth as his own endless self-doubt about his work and its value get transferred onto Belz and her presence. We too feel his wrath, his struggle with the demons of his (Nazi-era and East German) past. And that feeling is inescapably thrilling, like being acknowledged then silenced by a demigod of ancient mythology.
Richter will be much in the news this October as London’s Tate Modern celebrates his career with his most significant retrospective to date. –TIFF
the title says it all, and mr. richter says almost nothing in addition. which is fine, since the few times he speaks, he offers little more than warmed-over formalist platitudes. otherwise, he seems pleasant enough. and watching him paint is cool. you'll know within 10 minutes whether or not this is the movie for you.
A glimpse into the creation behind new works by Gerhard Richter visiting his studio in Germany as well as being witness to some gallery shows over the last four years. Interesting in seeing that Richter constantly self critiques and doesn't seem to know exactly where the canvas is going and when he's done with it. Often as an audience member we wince when he again whitewashes or adds another layer to a work.
Quick notes on the exhibition in London and Corinna Belz’s doc followed by suggestions for further reading.
Also: Manoel de Oliveira has begun shooting Gabo and the Shadow — and a new issue of TATE ETC.