If Germany’s Gerhard Richter isn’t the world’s greatest living artist, I’d like to know who is? Until his death in the summer us Brits bestowed the title on our own Lucian Freud.
But this was a piece of pretty harmless jingoism. I’d say any one room in the recently opened Richter retrospective at Tate Modern is equal in impact to much of Freud’s entire output.
Once Freud found his unmistakable studio based style - a Francis Bacon-influenced focus on human flesh – he stuck to it.
Not so Richter. Coinciding with the artist’s 80th birthday, Gerhard Richter: Panorama is a major exhibition that charts significant moments of his remarkable career in the wide subject matter and variety of styles – both representational and abstract – he mastered in a career spanning nearly five decades.
Born in 1932 in Dresden and escaping to West Germany just two months before the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961, Gerhard’s art has been a ceaseless examination of the visual with a particular emphasis on the relationship of paint and photography.
Richter’s influences include Titian, Vermeer, Constable, and Duchamp, but he has remained a man of his time. The Nazis, the Baader Meinhof faction, and 9/11 have all come within the artist’s orbit. He takes his inspiration in everything from clouds and colour charts and applies techniques from the traditional to the use of squeegees.
Richter has never settled for the tried and tested to this day. He is an inspiration to all artists. I shall be making use of my Tate membership to visit this exhibition again.
I have also seen Woody Allen’s latest movie Midnight in Paris this week. Though far from his best work, it isn’t an embarrassment like his London cycle. Parisians might not recognise their city in Allen’s rose-tinted tribute but the film was enjoyable none the less. It lost its way in the last 15 minutes but Owen Wilson, as the Allen character, remained a revelation throughout.