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Gerhard Richter. "Panorama" and "Painting"

Quick notes on the exhibition in London and Corinna Belz's doc followed by suggestions for further reading.

Gerhard Richter: Panorama opened at the Tate Modern in London today and will be on view through January 8. For the Guardian's Adrian Searle, "Richter is a painter who professes to have nothing to say, then says it…. The present exhibition is more than a blow-by-blow account of Richter's development since 1961, when the artist, by then a successful young mural painter, crossed from East Germany to the west and re-embarked on a career full of interesting confusions, cross-currents, contradictions and detours. The exhibition makes a kind of cumulative sense."

The Tate will be screening Corinna Belz's Gerhard Richter Painting on Sunday and twice again on the two following Sundays. It also screened at Toronto, where John DeFore, writing in the Hollywood Reporter, declared it "a must-see for followers of contemporary painting." Now the doc's also out on DVD from Soda Pictures. Travis Jeppesen for Artforum: "Those expecting a revealing biopic of the famously elusive painter will be mostly disappointed with this exercise in observational idolatry, which confines itself to two years, 2008 and 2009, in Richter's working life, culminating in Abstract Paintings, the November 2009 exhibition at Marian Goodman Gallery in New York. To Belz's credit, her camera elegantly captures the artist's complex method of applying paint through squeegeeing several different layers on a large canvas. It is a complex process — filled with doubtful, contemplative pauses — wherein one painting becomes several different paintings before arriving at the finale."

Some time ago, I pointed to essays on Richter by Thomas Schütte and John-Paul Stonard in TATE ETC. and the marvelous piece in the Guardian by Tom McCarthy. Today, let me add Fred Camper's 2002 defense of Richter in the wake of a rather vicious attack on the artist by Jed Perl in the New Republic. (Peter Schjeldahl dismissed Perl's argument as well in a piece for the New Yorker in 2005.)

One final suggestion, maybe a little something for the weekend: Don DeLillo's short story, "Looking at Meinhof." Which brings us back to Searle: "Speaking of his 1988 paintings based on the arrests, deaths and funerals of members of the Baader-Meinhof gang, Richter said: 'Ever since I have been able to think, I have known that every rule and opinion — insofar as either is ideologically motivated — is false, a hindrance, a menace, a crime.' The entire series remains a deeply ambiguous venture, and that is its strength."

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Jealous. I love Richter’s work.

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