collage and offset litho (300 signed, 10,000 unsigned)
Benefit print for the American Environment Foundation
Gerhard Richter grew up behind the Iron Curtain. Educated in East Germany, he is best known for his oversized photorealist paintings and bright gestural abstractions. While his photorealism may be tied to his formative training in the Socialist Realist style, his abstract canvases oppose the Communist veto of modernist forms of expression. As a student at the mural painting division of the Dresden Fine Arts Academy, Richter acquired superb technical skills, but detested the uniformity and restrictions imposed on artistic creativity. After defecting to West Germany in 1961, he began painting from photographs and founded the group Capitalist Realism, which sought to capture the nature of West Germany’s capitalist reality.
Based on a 1969 snapshot the artist took on the Canary Islands, Seelandschaft deploys a key trope of Socialist Realist landscapes—the prominent inclusion of the horizon line—that symbolizes the utopian future to which all Socialist societies aspired. The golden, almost apocalyptic, glow of the sky, however, forecasts an impending cataclysm rather than an earthly paradise. Moreover, the low-hanging clouds together with the forbidding wall of waves in the foreground produce a claustrophobic effect. What at first appears to be an infinite space emerges as a closed-off world, like the one Richter had left behind—a world in which no one could travel, or speak, freely.
Now on view in the exhibition “The Legacy of Socialist Realism" through June 22, 2014.
Gerhard Richter (German, born 1932)
Seelandschaft (Ocean), 1971
Art Rental Collection Transfer, 1995.1
Darkroom experiments. I’m not sure if I could classify this as a photogram because I used an enlarger to project & print transparencies that I had painted on, similar to making film prints but without the actual film. This one maybe I won’t draw over
For three decades, starting in the 1930s, he did the same thing. He’d sit inside a photo booth. He’d smile. He’d pose.
And then—pop! pop! pop!—out would pop a glossy self-portrait, in shades of black and white. There he was, staring back at himself … and grinning. And, sometimes, almost scowling. There he was, mirthful. And, sometimes, almost scornful.
The man—nobody knows who he was—repeated this process 455 times, at least, and he did so well into the 1960s. Nobody knows for sure why he did it. Or where he did it. All we know is that he took nearly 500 self-portraits over the course of thirty years, at a time when taking self-portraits was significantly more difficult than it is today, creating a striking record of the passage of time.
The man’s effort is now being shared with the public in the form of a collection being shown at Rutgers’ Zimmerli Art Museum in New Brunswick. “445 Portraits of a Man,” the exhibit is appropriately called, takes these early, earnest selfies and presents them as art.
Read more. [Image courtesy Donald Lokuta]
John Paul White and Candi Staton perform together at the Alabama Music hall of Fame induction banquet in Florence, AL on feb. 28,2014