Monday, 10 October 2011

Gerhard Richter: Panorama

On Saturday I went to see Gerhard Richter: Panorama at the Tate Modern.
I have to say, it was one of the most interesting exhibitions of painting I have ever seen, Richter really tests the medium of paint, from painting freely and abstractly to painting highly detailed photographic imitations, like that above.

Richter uses photographs to paint from, but unlike many other artists, he paints them as photographs, keeping the focusing point of the original focus. This works well as it draws your focus to the main subject within the painting, however you can tell it was painted from a photograph. Richter likes to use photography in his work, painting over photographs as well as painting from them.

I think the fact that some of the paintings were from photographs creates more of a narrative, it makes them fact and it makes them a memory, a static slice of a life. He is looking at his personal history and choosing significant moments from it to paint. Because of this some of his work can be compared to that of Emin, whose work is hugely biographical. The difference is that Emin's work is about herself and is hugely open, whereas Richters work is more private, like stolen moments we never seem to get to know the whole story.

I enjoyed the show but I wish I could have seen more of the process of his work, where everything came from. I guess that's the danger of seeing an art exhibition as an artist, you really want to get inside their mind and find out what their process is.


  1. Dear Laura,

    I agree that Richter is a fascinating
    artist, whereas I don't share your passion
    for Emin who draws as badly
    as Hirst paints.

    I don't think that Emin has ever had anything significant to say. I find her work bland and

    Richter's greatest skill is his technique,
    which is cold, it matches the clinical eye
    of Warhol.

    I don't agree that painting over a photograph
    creates more of a narrative.
    Lucien Freud used live models and you can
    argue that because each model spent weeks
    if not months in the same pose, it creates a much deeper bond between the viewer, the artist
    and the model who gracefully suffered
    to be immortalised.

    I love photography, but if I wanted to paint
    a portrait, I'd try to do it with my own eyes, with all the flaws that you can find in Freud's work,
    that's what makes the paintings so inspiring,
    so unique, unlike the surface sheen of Richter's images which merely mimic photography.

    I enjoy your posts.
    I wish we could meet for a chat.
    I like your thoughts, even though I don't
    always agree.



  2. Mark, I agree that Freud's portraits do create a great conversation with the object, being the person in this case. In a way that is creating a narrative.

    But you misunderstand me, I did not mean that painting over the photograph was a narrative, but that the way he painted a copy of a photograph.

    I think that painting from life and painting from a photograph are two vastly different things and cannot really be compared. I do not think one is better than the other though; painting from life definitely creates a painting which has a great understanding of the subject and creates a good open understanding between the subject and viewer, painting a photograph, in contrast, brings a nostalgia and a moment to life rather than a whole person.

    So I think they both have their uses.

    Yes, it's always good to hear another opinion, it makes me look more closely at my own opinion, even though I am often pretty stubborn with it :P