Saturday, May 5, 2012

Richter in Berlin

Do you know the German painter Gerhard Richter? He's one of our favourite living artists. When John and I were planning our month in Berlin, we were thrilled to discover that Panorama -- his five decade career retrospective -- was going to be in Berlin at the Neue Nationalgalerie at the same time. We had high hopes for the show so decided to make it our absolute first stop.
The Neue Nationalgalerie is Mies van der Rohe's final project, built in 1965. A stunning example of his ultra-austere style.
The ground floor is a beautiful example of his passion for open spaces with a minimum of interior support. It is used for temporary exhibitions of contemporary art.
Interior walls are always temporary. Richter has ringed the exhibition with the small panels that make up his 1974 work, 4096 Colours.
Inside, the show begins with examples of Richter's early paintings based on images from newspapers. Ferrari, 1964.
 This is Negroes (Nuba), 1964.
Some of the large, early, monochrome paintings reminded us of finger painting. Inpainting (Grey), 1972.
Better than finger painting! Inpainting, (detail).
We were surprised by how Romantic some of the work was-- like this view of the Alps from the air. Alps II, 1968
And this painting of waves and clouds: Seascape (Sea-Sea), 1970.
Richter's installations in glass are playful, 4 Panes of Glass, 1967
This recent portrait has already become one of Richter's most popular -- Ella, 2007.
Another form of 4096 Colours, 1974, hung on one of van der Rohe's marble supports, was big and busy.  A great test for one's digital camera.
John loved how the piece worked against the patterns of the marble.
We both agreed that Mies van der Rohe's space was the perfect setting for the show.
I loved the gorgeous colours of the later abstractions. June, 1983.
Abstract Painting, 1987.
We first saw these big abstracts at the 2009 Venice Biennale. They are from the CAGE series (Cage 5, Cage 6), dedicated to the composer John Cage. Richter used several large squeegees for these and other abstract paintings. Corinna Belz has a fascinating account of Richter in action in her 2011 documentary Gerhard Richter Painting. Here's the trailer:


  1. Wow that is a very special building.
    Those Berliners are fascinating too.
    Thanks for the photos and have an amazing month.

  2. Bill and I are big van der Rohe fans -- he did the International Style right! Glad you're enjoying the photos -- more to come!

  3. Thanks for taking us along!! ;-)

  4. Beautiful weather for your adventures! Everything looks so great!

  5. the two of you are the luckiest couple of tomatoes ever!! So enjoy tagging along with you when I see your pics. Love to you both and enjoy !!!
    Mary Ellen

  6. Thanks, Shelley,Cheri and Mary Ellen! Our pleasure to share! Truly wish you were here!