Gerhard Richter ( German, 1932 )
In 1962, Gerhard Richter began to create paintings based on photographs. He applied slight manipulations—such as a notable blurring effect—when he executed the paintings. The differences between the original image and the reproduction introduce psychological depth and complicate the notion of photographs as truthful. Certain paintings and source images became editioned prints, a practice rooted in Richter’s interest in mass production. His portraits are drawn from diverse sources, including media images and personal photographs of his family members. The portraits are exercises in representation in which the inconsistencies between appearance and reality obscure the viewer’s assumptions about both the image and the subject. Richter’s work straddles subjectivity and objectivity, authorship and anonymity, evasion and confrontation, and its power often rests in these contradictions.
This photograph depicts the infamous Nazi doctor Werner Heyde during his 1959 arrest. Gerhard Richter’s interest in subjects associated with the National Socialist Party suggests he was grappling with Germany’s recent fascist past.
- Label text, From Düsseldorf to Dallas: Postwar German Art in the DMA Collection, 2018.