Gerhard Richter is known for a prolific and stylistically varied exploration of the medium of painting, often incorporating and exploring the visual effects of photography. Born 9 February 1932, Richter is a German visual artist that has simultaneously produced abstract and photorealistic painted works, as well as photographs and glass pieces, thus following the examples of Picasso and Jean Arp in undermining the concept of the artist’s obligation to maintain a single cohesive style.
Richter is regarded as the top-selling living artist. In October 2012, Richter’s Abstraktes Bild set an auction record price for a painting by a living artist at £21m ($34m).
“I like everything that has no style: dictionaries, photographs, nature, myself and my paintings,” he says. “Because style is violent, and I am not violent.”
In the early 1960s, Richter began to create large-scale photorealist copies of black-and-white photographs rendered in a range of grays, and innovated a blurred effect (sometimes deemed “photographic impressionism”) in which portions of his compositions appear smeared or softened—paradoxically reproducing photographic effects and revealing his painterly hand. With heavily textured abstract gray monochromes, Richter introduced abstraction into his practice, and he has continued to move freely between figuration and abstraction, producing geometric “Color Charts”, bold, gestural abstractions, and “Photo Paintings” of anything from nudes, flowers, and cars to landscapes, architecture, and scenes from Nazi history. Richter absorbed a range of influences, from Caspar David Friedrich and Roy Lichtenstein to Art Informel and Fluxus.
“I pursue no objectives, no system, no tendency; I have no program, no style, no direction. I have no time for specialized concerns, working themes or variations that lead to mastery. I steer clear of definitions. I don’t know what I want. I am inconsistent, noncommittal, passive; I like the indefinite, the boundless; I like continual uncertainty.