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Gerhard Richter Portraits: Painting Appearances
     

Gerhard Richter Portraits: Painting Appearances

by Paul Moorhouse
 

“Appearance, semblance is the theme of my life.” This statement by Gerhard Richter (b. 1932) suggests the importance of portraiture to his career. One of the greatest artists working today, Richter has been intensively engaged with portraiture since 1962. His portraits invite critical consideration of both portraiture and painting; they include images

Overview

“Appearance, semblance is the theme of my life.” This statement by Gerhard Richter (b. 1932) suggests the importance of portraiture to his career. One of the greatest artists working today, Richter has been intensively engaged with portraiture since 1962. His portraits invite critical consideration of both portraiture and painting; they include images of specific people—whether sensational subjects of people in the media, icons of the popular imagination, or close friends and relatives. However, all are transformed when Richter puts them onto canvas, for they often become anonymous in the process or become significant simply for being included. Richter’s investigation into how we understand what surrounds us is at the heart of all his work.

In this large-scale book—ideal for Richter’s portraits—Paul Moorhouse offers a major advance in the understanding and appreciation of the renowned artist’s work. With keen insight, Moorhouse studies the portraits in close detail, examining the sophisticated ways in which Richter has challenged and extended the genre of portraiture and revealing the startling range of the artist’s source material.

Featuring never-before-published images, this book clearly eclipses any previous publication on Richter’s portraiture.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

German-born artist Richter's oeuvre has consistently been marked by a remarkable heterogeneity of style, palette, and subjects-always defiant of labels or associations with specific schools of painting. Since his 1961 escape from East Germany, portraiture has been a touchstone, often with expanded strategies of visual representation. By the late 1960s, Richter was exploring the relationship between photography and painting with an adumbrated, obscurely indicated style while incorporating the sense of momentary happenstance contained within a snapshot. His blurred imagery is like an elusive, hazy photorealism, loaded with a significance the viewer can't easily name, reminiscent of Robert Capa's Omaha Beach photographs. And it is in his portraits that this method is at its most compelling. Moorhouse, a curator at London's National Portrait Gallery, has written detailed biocritical essays that run through this oversized and heavily illustrated book, placing Richter both in an artistic and a historical context while championing the beauty and inherent iconoclasm of the portraits themselves. Despite having a focus narrower than Robert Storr's 2002 monograph, this title is an excellent supplementary purchase for all large libraries.
—Douglas F. Smith

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300151596
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
04/21/2009
Pages:
176
Product dimensions:
10.20(w) x 13.70(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Paul Moorhouse is Twentieth-Century Curator at the National Portrait Gallery, London.

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