Gerhard Richter: Paintings from Private Collections (5 stars)

Gerhard Richter: Paintings from Private Collections

National Gallery of Scotland Complex, Edinburgh, until Sun 4 Jan


The literature accompanying this show sets the bar high: ‘One of the greatest and most influential European artists of the last 50 years’. Whoever chose those words wasn’t wrong. This first retrospective in the UK for 20 years of Gerhard Richter’s work (and his first ever in Scotland) is truly stunning.

Even a series of paintings completed in the early 60s is steeped in the zeitgeist of Richter’s native Germany, sandwiched between the post-WWII and early Cold War eras. The artist paints a squadron of diving Mustangs in the same dynamic, fetishistic style that he depicts speed-trailed Fiats on another canvas, even though his upbringing in war-torn Dresden must have taught him to dread aeroplanes. Elsewhere, aerial views of modernist structures are slate grey and cold, or painted in such broad strokes that they might well be decimated themselves.

This is all scene setting for Richter’s most effective works: large abstracts onto which thick oil paints have been squeegeed. Most of these aren’t even titled, the striking waves and textures and colours of the paint standing monolithic and subconsciously evocative. Elsewhere, the deceptively classical studies of ‘Candle’ and ‘Skull’, the playful masking of a series of landscapes with washes of colour and the conversion of 11 sheets of stacked sheet glass into a watery mirror force the viewer to reconsider the acts of painting and of viewing.

Gerhard Richter

  • 5 stars

Figurative and abstract paintings by the German Pop Artist who is one of the most influential artists living today. Including many of his iconic works of the 1960s, which are based on magazine, newspaper and personal photographs, this is the first major retrospective of Richter's paintings to be held in Britain since 1991…

Saturday Art Club

  • 5 stars

Explore Gerhard Richter's painting techniques with Ann McCluskey. The morning session is suitable for ages 5-7, the afternoon session ages 8-11.

Saturday Studio

  • 5 stars

Explore the use of photography, mark-making and abstraction through the works of Gerhard Richter in this four-week, artist-led course. Suitable for ages 11-15.

Signed Tour of Gerhard Richter

  • 5 stars

Mary Kilpatrick will take a tour of the work of the German pop artist, translated into British Sign Language by Mary Dunlop. To book, fax your details to 0131 556 5229 or text 07814 751087 by Friday 28 November.

Gerhard Richter for the Visually Impaired

  • 5 stars

Juliana Capes and Jennie Temple lead this descriptive tour and practical workshop. Contact Community Education Officer, Mary Kilpatrick, on 0131 624 6428 to book a place.

Painting Photographs

  • 5 stars

Dr Dietmar Elger from the Gerhard Richter Archive gives an overview of Richter's work from the early photo paintings to the 2007 window in Cologne Cathedral, comprising some 11,200 coloured glass plates. Elger discusses the influence the ubiquity of mass-produced and photographic images in the 1960s had on Richter's work…

War Cut: An Abstract Painting as Book

  • 5 stars

Dr Dieter Schwarz, Director of the Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Switzerland, examines Gerhard Richter's book 'War Cut', a collage of paintings and newspaper articles which allude to the Iraq war. No booking required.

Workshop for the Visually Impaired

  • 5 stars

Descriptive tour and practical workshop based on the works of Gerhard Richter, with Juliana Capes and Jennie Temple. Please book in advance.

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