Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien – ‘GERHARD RICHTER: LANDSCAPE’
Published by Sugar & Cream, Wednesday 30 September 2020
Text and Images courtesy of Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien
1 October 2020 – 14 February 2021
‘Gerhard Richter: Landscape’ is a compilation of more than 130 paintings, drawings, printed graphics, photography, artist’s books and objects loaned from fifty international sources. The project spotlights the importance of this genre for the German artist, who celebrated his 88th birthday this year. It is the most extensive exhibition worldwide that is exclusively devoted to Richter’s landscapes – a genre that has preoccupied him continually since 1963. Several of the exhibits in the Bank Austria Kunstorum Wien have never been on show to the public before.
‘My landscapes not only evoke response as beautiful or nostalgic, romantic or classical like lost Paradises, but are above all ‘dishonest […] und by ‘dishonest’ I mean the transfiguration that takes place when we look at nature: nature, which in all its forms is always against us, because it knows neither sense, nor mercy, nor compassion, because it knows nothing, is absolutely spiritless, the total opposite of us, absolutely non-human.’ – Gerhard Richter (1986)
Presented by Interni Cipta Selaras
Landscapes – photographic, romanticising, abstract
Richter’s complete oeuvre is renowned among other things for its heterogeneity, so accordingly this is also reflected in the pictorial genre of the landscape: the exhibition is organised into five thematic sections, which individually but also as a totality present an impressive panorama of Richter’s ‘work on reality’. The paintings, drawings and printed graphics are not directly based on nature, but mostly on photographic sources and are thus ‘second-hand landscapes’, as is evident in their sectional character, their blurred effects, occasionally also in writing within a picture. Landscapes with low placed horizon and brooding atmosphere shift Richter into the vicinity of German Romanticism, which he does indeed evoke but has frequently talked about in a critical and sceptical vein: he thinks it is possible to paint like Caspar David Friedrich, but only without the potential of alluding to the intellectual tradition of the Romantics. Accordingly, Richter designates these romanticising pictures as ‘cuckoo’s eggs’ – a whole room is devoted to them in the exhibition. Another room in the exhibition focuses on the importance of Richter’s abstracted and abstract landscapes for the development of his painting. Numerous pictures have for the first time left their public and private collections for this exhibition section – including the monumental, 6.8 metres-wide painting ‘St. Gallen’.
Landscapes – fictional and overpainted
Construed and manipulated landscapes make up a further high spot of the exhibition – Richter’s sea pieces, for instance, in which, collage-like, he frequently assembles the photographic sources of areas of water and sky autonomously together, in no way ‘true to life’. Many re-worked landscapes are placed at the end of the exhibition: overpainted photographs, most of which he himself made available to the exhibition as loans, also landscape paintings, their realism relativised by Richter with abstract colour structures.
Landscape as longing
‘Gerhard Richter: Landscape’ also offers something more and not least against the backdrop of current discussions in autumn 2020 that range from pandemic to climate crisis: the opportunity of a contemplative observation of ‘nature’ and ‘landscape’. Produced in close cooperation with Atelier Gerhard Richter in Cologne and organised in cooperation with the Kunsthaus Zurich, the exhibition enables an encounter with the artist’s key works and for the first time a retrospective view of a genre described by Richter in 1981 thus: ‘If the “abstract pictures” show my reality, then the landscapes or still life motifs show my longing.’
The exhibition ‘Gerhard Richter: Landscape’ is being produced in cooperation with the Kunsthaus Zurich.
Curators: Hubertus Butin (Berlin) und Lisa Ortner-Kreil
The exhibition ‘Gerhard Richter: Landscape’ is accompanied by a catalogue (in English or German) published in a German and in an English edition. Available in the exhibition as well as online.
Further information : www.kunstforumwien.at.
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