Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter is a contemporary German painter considered one of the most influential living artists. Richter’s experiments with abstraction and photo-based painting contributed greatly to the history of the medium. Richter’s paintings, drawn from his vast archive of images known as Atlas, reference images of his daughter Betty, flickering candles, aerial photographs, portraits of criminals and pastoral landscapes. “The images are the idea in visual or pictorial form,” he reflected. “And the idea has to be legible, both in the individual image and in the collective context.”

Born February 9, 1932 in Dresden, Germany during the rise of the Nazi regime. After World War II, living in East Germany under Soviet rule, Richter learned to produce highly realistic socialist realist murals. In 1961, Richter fled to West Germany, where he studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf with Sigmar Polke. During this time, the artist began to produce blurred photopaintings. The works explore the conflicting nature of the formal composition of an image and the content it contains. Richter introduced abstraction into his repertoire in the following decades, analyzing pictorial expression through a technique of squeegeeing paint onto the canvas. In 2012, Richter set a record auction price for a painting sold by a living artist with his Abstraktes Bild (809-4) (1994), which sold for $34 million. He broke this again twice, first in 2013 with the sale of Domplatz, Mailand (Cathedral Square, Milan) (1968) for $37.1 million, then in 2015 with the sale of Abstraktes Bild (1986) for $44.52 million. The artist currently lives and works in Cologne, Germany. Today, his works are in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Gallery in London and the Albertina in Vienna, among others.