Artist: Gerhard Richter

The book Godfrey, M., Serota, Nicholas & Tate Modern, 2011. Gerhard Richter : panorama, London: Tate Publishing.

Pictures by Gerhard Richter are neither documentation nor fiction. Nevertheless, they depict human life

Godfrey, M., Serota, Nicholas & Tate Modern, 2011. Gerhard Richter : panorama, London: Tate Publishing, P.6.

It’s interesting that when you put a cluster of paintbrush marks on the canvas, if the marks are condensed enough, the eye sees it as a sculptural object. Such as in the painting by Richter on P.46, Table, 1962. Is that just my eyes?!

When you put in a very soft blurred background with no evidence of paint brush marks, and then add very quick marks on top that are directly made from gesture and movement and not touched again, these marks look like they are floating in a space. Shown in the painting Coloured Grey [Bunt auf Grau], 1968, oil on canvas, P.98.
This is to do with what I always seem to go back to, that I first overheard in a conversation between artists at a gallery when I was 18, that the contrast between two visual painting extremes accentuates each side! And does something.

P.100 the painting Untitled (Stroke) [Ohne Titel (Strich)] 1968, oil on canvas. This incredibly gestural mark next to the blurry background looks like the brush mark is some great structural shape in space. The length and height of the canvas makes the shape seem very great. What would happen if I added blurryness, in the form of gradients?, into my work next to the brushstrokes I am already doing? Would it make the gestural brush strokes look more sculptural and like they are in three dimensional space?

Gerhard Richter is an excellent painter, looking at his work in depth for the first time, I realise he reminds the viewer of what to notice in the real world. He depicts something so on the brink of reality, and yet also so far from it, that it makes me want to go and stare at the real world!

Gerhard Richter in the interview at the start of the book, talking about his abstract paintings:

We describe them as more abstract, because they bear so little resemblance to reality but, nevertheless, they are exactly that: they present us with a picture of something, regardless of whether it could exist or not.


When abstract painting one could either use this to their advantage or not. A painter could embrace the fact that the viewer will subconsciously find a picture in the painting, or they could try and get away from it. In my work I embrace and try to use this to my advantage – painting abstractly with the intention that the finished result, even though the marks are truly abstract, will resemble a landscape.

abstraction. It’s so mysterious, like an unknown land.


I like that a lot: abstraction is ‘like an unknown land’.

Some later abstract paintings also started in a similar way with constructive lines and vistas, architectonic, or like science fiction.


I am becoming more and more interested in science fiction as an influence to art. I want to rewatch 2001: A Space Odyssey. I have watched that film and read the book and was blown away by both. Perhaps it is influencing/ will influence my work.

NS: But painting is not about efficiency.

GR: Actually it is, in the sense that it allows us to find a form for a complicated idea, that’s to say, to make something chaotic communicable, it is efficient.


This is a wonderful idea for framing painting. My most recent ideas for painting – the existential stuff, are very much about condensing a chaotic idea into a communicable painting.

There was something appealing about it [Double Pane of Glass, 1977, P.137]. The space between.


^ Space between things being more interesting than the things themselves. That’s an interesting idea.

Richter discovered the squeegee with the painting Abstract Painting [Abstraktes Bild] ,1980, P.127.
The yellow marks across the canvas is like flat screen that blocks the depth of the scene in the painting behind. I want to use this mark marking in my work, to use screens as a way to cover things from the viewer, to then exaggerate what isn’t hidden.

The reason I was drawn to Richter’s paintings were his abstracted landscape and completely abstract paintings, that I came across by chance, I can’t remember how. They just struck me as so relevant to my work, that I was surprised I had never come acorss them before, or known Richter without knowing about this series of his.

Abstract Painting [Abstraktes Bild], 1984, oil on canvas, 50×70, P.125. The blue, soft, blended background and the muddy green bottom suggest a landscape. The paint marks he’s making are so similar to my work. He is blending the paint in places, which accentuates the gestural marks. This idea of blended marks that are removed from the painting process, next to the gestural marks that remind one of the painting process, is something Richter seems to do often, and it’s something I would like to try in the painting I am working on currently.

Pages 128-132, 147-9, 154-5 filled with abstract paintings that repeat this idea of blurred vs gestural. I have looked at these images a lot and noticed the architectural qualities of them. The planes he created in space, the movement of wind or energy through scattered marks.
The squeegee seems like an effective tool for playing with planes, screens and depth. I could try using this tool next term.

Two oil paintings both called Abstract Painting [Abstraktes Bild] and both done in 1977 on Pp.140-1. They remind me of what I think my paintings would look like if the paintings were 3D and you walked right up to the brushstrokes.

June [Juni], 1983, oil on canvas, P.155. Reminds me of Amy Sillman’s painting Get the Moon. The blurry background in this painting is interesting.


I am going to keep referring back to Richter’s work. I would like to see some of it in person as well! Some of his work in at the Tate Modern in London, which I could see over Christmas, I will look to see if there is any more of his stuff in London that I don’t know about.

His work both aesthetically (the abstract works) and conceptually feels familiar to me. Reading about his ideas lets me see what is important to me. And increasingly, sci-fi is becoming something that is intriguing me – the concepts in sci-fi of vast spaces and huge amounts of time, all just a bit puzzling.

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