April 14, 2012

Richter Painting

My entry into Richter's work was the inclusive show Gerhard Richter: Paintings at the MCA in the mid-80s. More recently I saw his abstract works from 2005 alongside Caspar David Friedrich's paintings in the epnonymously titled, From Caspar David Friedrich to Gerhard Richter: German Paintings from Dresden at The Getty, and this past fall I finally had a chance to visit the mirror works at Dia. In between, I've been lucky enough to catch the works here and there. 

For a man of many images, Gerhard Richter, Painting, is a man of few words. Die-hard Richter fans will appreciate the film's slightly ironic, almost deadpan simplicity, especially when you consider that behind the paintings are 45 years worth of journal entries, letters and writings, neatly packed into two volumes. Yes, I am a Richter geek. 

Within moments of the film's opening, I wondered if being one of the most celebrated artists of our time would make painting in front of a camera any less daunting. The answer is no; he is, in fact, still mortal. At 80, Richter doesn't need to explain anything in the film—the Sissyphean task of dragging who knows how many psi of wet paint across a canvas says it all— but if you're into Richter's work and want to know more about the man behind the myth, I'd suggest poring through his writings to complement the viewing experience.

Note: The editor in me would cut some of the maquette footage and trim some squeegee action, but on the other hand, I'm no stranger to durée.

Playing at the Belcourt in Nashville through April 19.

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