Gerhard Richter

*1932 in Dresden, Germany

Gerhard Richter – variety of styles as a principle

Gerhard Richter is one of the most famous and most dated artists of our time. His extensive oeuvre encompasses a wide variety of facets and techniques and it seems as if pluralism and variety of styles are his artistic principle. From the beginning, his artistic career was determined by an interplay of techniques, with Richter always willing to experiment with depictions of reality and exploring the possibilities of painting and photography – his work was and is characterized by contradictions, ambivalences and discontinuities.

Exhibitions (selection)

1964 Gerd Richter. Photo images, portraits and families, first solo exhibition in the Friedrich & Dahlem gallery, Munich

1969 Nine Young Artists in the Guggenheim Museum New York

1972 German Pavilion at the 36th Biennale with the work group 48 Portraits, Venice

1986 Pictures 1962–1985 in the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf

1993/94 Retrospective with exhibitions in Paris, Bonn, Stockholm, Madrid

2002 Retrospective in the MOMA New York

2004 Opening of the Gerhard Richter Rooms in the Albertinum Dresden

2011/12 Gerhard Richter: Panorama in the Tate Modern, London

2014 Gerhard Richter. Pictures/Series in the Fondation Beyeler, Riehen (Switzerland)

2016 Gerhard Richter. Birkenau in the Frieder Burda Museum, Baden-Baden

2017 Gerhard Richter. About Painting – Early Pictures in the Kunstmuseum Bonn

2017 Gerhard Richter. New Pictures in the Museum Ludwig, Cologne

2022 Gerhard Richter. Portraits. Glass. Abstractions in the Albertinum Dresden

In addition to this small selection, Gerhard Richter was and is represented in numerous other national and international solo and group exhibitions.


Gerhard Richter was born in Dresden in 1931 and began studying art at the Academy of Fine Arts there after the end of the Second World War. After a short period of artistic creativity in the GDR, he fled to West Berlin in 1961 and continued his studies at the Düsseldorf Art Academy in the class of Karl Otto Goetz.

In the mid-1960s he began to transfer photographic motifs onto canvas. Richter did not practice pure photorealism, he changed the image so that a mystical blur was created that hid the motif behind a light veil of mist. Over time, Richter increased this blur and painted over his photorealistic paintings in an increasingly abstract manner. The motifs for his works mostly came from newspapers or magazines, but Richter also took photographs himself. In addition to people with a personal connection, the artist also used objects, landscapes or cityscapes as motifs. Particularly worth mentioning here are the “seascapes” that were created after his trip to Greenland in 1975 and the motif of the candle, which has appeared repeatedly in his oeuvre since the 1980s.

Richter also dealt intensively with political topics such as the processing of the Nazi era. Typical of this are the “Birkenau”-paintings, in which he depicted photographs of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp on four canvases and painted over them in several layers. But Richter also took up current political discourses in his works, such as in his collage-like “RAF suite”.

From the end of the 1960s, Richter increasingly devoted himself to abstraction, until he developed the squeegee technique for himself in the 1970s. With this technique, he was able to apply several layers of paint on top of each other, so that not only could dynamic, expressive colors and shapes emerge randomly, but the materiality of the work was also emphasized.