Gerhard Richter. Florence
Publisher: Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern-Ruit (2001)
Details: Hardback, 144 pages
For nearly 40 years Gerhard Richter has been examining the ways we perceive reality and the effects of different forms of representation on the viewer. "For me," he has said, "there is no difference between a landscape and an abstract painting. In my view, the term 'realism' makes no sense."
Richter began painting on photographs in 1989 as a way of joining seemingly opposing values: the tactile paint mark that is actually abstract and the illusionistic depiction of real space created by the action of light on film. This particular volume, Gerhard Richter: Florence, contains a series of small snapshots of the view outside Richter's Cologne studio as well as street scenes in Florence, which he altered by applying oil paint with a palette knife. In some images, he reinforces the intense colour of the photograph; in others, the paint nearly obliterates the scene. The artist, who originally conceived the project for a set of CDs (thus the chosen square format), overthrows normal expectations. The numerical dates that serve as titles are completely unrelated to the dates when the photographs were taken or painted. The size of the reproductions is slightly larger than the originals and the rhythmic blotting out of chunks of a view creates a miniature abstract beauty with an almost jewel-like quality based on its small size.