Betty

MAKER:
Artist

Gerhard Richter ( German, 1932 )


Editor

Galerie Fred Jahn ( German )


Editor

Anthony d'Offay Gallery


Printer

Kirschbaum Laserscan GmbH

DATE:
1991
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General Description

This work by Gerhard Richter is a lithograph print of the artist's own well-known painting, Betty (collection of The Saint Louis Art Museum). Betty is one of Richter's most desirable images for its dazzling realism and icon-like composition. Richter's daughter is seen turning her shoulder from the viewer in a bravura, photo-realistic painting performance. This editioned Betty print in the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art has a fascinating lineage, of which the print is only the latest incarnation: Richter has made a print of an original painting (the St. Louis painting) that is in turn based on a photograph Richter took of his daughter--who was at that moment looking back at one of Richter's own paintings in his studio.

In photographing the Betty painting to create the Betty print, Richter lit the painting when it was photographed so that the texture of the canvas is more pronounced in the print than it is in the original painting. In doing so, and by using shellac on the paper to make the print sheet shiny, Richter emphasizes both the "object-ness" of the Betty painting and the Vermeer-like light that plays across his daughter's hair and clothing, making the Betty print look more like a painting than the original Betty painting itself. With editions like Betty, Richter is able to express most fully his essential notion that nothing is necessarily as it appears.

Since the early 1960s, Richter has turned to myriad artistic forms to raise questions about the twinned issues of seeing and thinking, especially in relation to art and the wider world around us. Richter's use of the edition accords with his wariness of ideologies, as his diverse approaches tie him to no one school, and it challenges the notion of an individual, authentic artistic style. Richter's entire career may, in fact, be seen to depend on mechanically produced, supposedly inauthentic images and objects. His "photopaintings" are based on photographs, his "abstractions" often look machine-made, and each image has complicated, layered meanings.

Adapted from

  • Bonnie Pitman, ed., "Sphere I (Kugel I) (1999.261)," in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012), 312.

  • Charles Wylie, DMA unpublished material, 1999.

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