Gerhard Richter: 40 Years of Painting

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C., USA

27 February 2003 – 18 May 2003

Domplatz, Mailand
Cathedral Square, Milan

1968 275 cm x 290 cm Catalogue Raisonné: 169

Oil on canvas

Measuring almost 3 x 3 metres, Cathedral Square, Milan is one of Gerhard Richter's largest figurative paintings. The work features the northern side of the cathedral square, onto which the shopping centre Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II faces. The façade of the 19th century Galleria covers a large area of the painting’s left side. This is a contrast to the right of the picture, where one can see two left side aisles of the gothic cathedral and the adjacent square.

As with the majority of Richter's paintings from the 1960s, Cathedral Square, Milan is executed in grey scale, however in this case Richter forgoes extreme contrasts of deep blacks and bright whites. The slightly blurred appearance of the painting, which Richter achieved by smudging over the paint later on, is one of Richter's characteristics. This painting features a specific kind of blurring: the artist treated the picture in a wave-like manner.

It is of note that Richter forgoes to feature the cathedral as Milan's most famous landmark. Instead he directs his attention to the immediate surroundings of the cathedral. The fact that Richter addressed the Milan cathedral in a painting as early as 1964 might offer an explanation: Milan, Cathedral [CR: 49] which is based on a photograph taken from a newspaper or magazine.

This painting was a commissioned work for the company Siemens Elettra and it remained at the company's headquarters in Milan for 30 years. According to Richter, this commission was the beginning of an ongoing preoccupation with townscapes: "Yes, sometimes I've enjoyed doing commissioned work in order to discover something that I wouldn't have found of my own accord. And so, when Siemens commissioned my first townscape, that led to all the townscapes that followed."1

Whilst Richter worked on Cathedral Square, Milan, he created a second painting of Milan of the same measurements, which is Richter's first townscape based on an aerial photograph. Since the painting eventually did not meet the artist's expectations, Richter cut it into nine pieces which are listed as autonomous works in his catalogue raisonné: Townscape M1 to Townscape M9 [CR: 170/1-9]; one part of which has been painted over using grey paint. Following the two Milan paintings, between 1968 and 1970 Richter created 38 further townscapes. [All townscapes]

 

1 Interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist, 1993 in: Gerhard Richter: Text. Writings, Interviews and Letters 1961–2007, Thames & Hudson, London, 2009, p. 301.

 

Notes prepared by editorial team

Sotheby's, New York, USA: 14 May 2013

Estimate: USD 30,000,000 – 40,000,000
Sold For:
USD 37,125,000

Sotheby's, London, UK: 09 December 1998

Estimate: GBP 800,000 – 1,200,000 USD 1,323,188 – 1,984,783
Sold For:
GBP 2,201,500 (incl. buyer’s premium)
USD 3,650,306

This artwork is included in the following publications:

Title Author Date

Publisher

Travel-House-Media, München (2014)

Details

Softcover, 176 pages

ISBN

9783834217301

Language

German

Category

Other publications
ArtworkMentioned: p. 123 
Köln. Eine Stadt in Biographien. Merian-Porträts Driessen, Christoph / Lewandowski, Norbert  2014

In

Die Welt

Issue

24 September 2010

Language

German

Category

Online Publications
ArtworkIllustrated (b/w) 
Read Article
Gerhard Richter. Die Hälfte im Museum ist Müll Tittel, Cornelius  2010

Publisher

Richter Verlag, Düsseldorf in association with D.A.P Distributed Art Publishers, New York, NY (2005)

Details

Hardback, 323 pages

ISBN

3937572201

ISBN

3926154764

Language

German

Category

Solo Exhibitions
ArtworkMentioned: pp. 25, 26 

Exhibitions

This catalogue raisonné records Richter’s works in the years 1999-2004. In his work, Gerhard Richter calls into question painting's boundaries, and the labels applied to painting and theories connected with them

...
More Details
Gerhard Richter. Werkverzeichnis 1993-2004 Zweite, Armin  2005

Publisher

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (2003)

Details

Softcover, 336 pages

ISBN

0870703552

Language

English

Category

Monographs
ArtworkMentioned: p. 62 
Discussed: pp. 59, 60 
Illustrated: p. 30 (b/w) 

Gerhard Richter is widely recognized as one of the most significant painters working today, and he is certainly among the most influential. He has worked in a wide range of media since the early 1960s

...
More Details
Gerhard Richter. Doubt and Belief in Painting Storr, Robert  2003

Publisher

DuMont, Köln (2002)

Details

Hardback, 420 pages

ISBN

9783832158484

Language

German

Category

Monographs
ArtworkDiscussed: p. 201 

Gerhard Richter has been widely regarded as a publicity shy artist. However, the biography Gerhard Richter. Maler gives an insight into Richter’s personal history as well as into the development of his artistic œuvre

...
More Details
Gerhard Richter. Maler Elger, Dietmar  2002

Publisher

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (2002)

Details

Hardback, Softcover, 340 pages

ISBN

189102437X

Language

English

Category

Solo Exhibitions
ArtworkMentioned: pp. 42, 43 
Illustrated: p. 145 (colour) 

Exhibitions

Published on the occasion of the exhibition Gerhard Richter. 40 Years of Painting at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, this publication represents a broad range of Gerhard Richter's paintings of the last 40 years

...
More Details
Gerhard Richter. Forty Years of Painting Storr, Robert  2002

Publisher

Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern-Ruit (2002)

Details

Hardback, 340 pages

ISBN

9783775711692

Language

German

Category

Solo Exhibitions
ArtworkDiscussed: pp. 39, 40, 41 
Illustrated: p. 145 (colour) 

Exhibitions

Published on the occasion of the exhibition Gerhard Richter. 40 Years of Painting at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, this publication represents a broad range of Gerhard Richter's paintings of the last 40 years

...
More Details
Gerhard Richter. Malerei Storr, Robert  2002

Publisher

Franz Paludetto, Torino (1990)

Details

Hardback, 162 pages

Languages

Italian, English

Category

Group Exhibitions
ArtworkMentioned 
Illustrated (colour) 

Exhibitions

65 - 75. Aspetti e pratiche dell'arte europea Magnani, Gregorio  1990
Gerhard Richter. Bilder = Paintings 1962 - 1985 Harten, Jürgen / Hering, Karl-Heinz / Honisch, Dieter / Loock, Ulrich / Ronte, Dieter / Elger, Dietmar  1986

Publisher

Museum Folkwang, Essen (1972)

Details

Hardback, 154 pages

Languages

Italian, German, English

Category

Solo Exhibitions
ArtworkMentioned: p. 39 
Illustrated: p. 49 (b/w) 
Gerhard Richter. 36. Biennale di Venezia, Padiglione tedesco = 36. Biennale in Venedig, Deutscher Pavilion = 36. Biennale in Venice, German Pavilion Honisch, Dieter / Helms, Dietrich / Honnef, Klaus / Ohff, Heinz / Dienst, Rolf Gunther / Schön, Rolf / Polke, Sigmar  1972

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2 related publications

Title Author Date

Publisher

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (2002)

Details

Hardback, Softcover, 340 pages

ISBN

189102437X

Language

English

Category

Solo Exhibitions

Exhibitions

Published on the occasion of the exhibition Gerhard Richter. 40 Years of Painting at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, this publication represents a broad range of Gerhard Richter's paintings of the last 40 years

...
More Details
Gerhard Richter. Forty Years of Painting Storr, Robert  2002

Publisher

Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern-Ruit (2002)

Details

Hardback, 340 pages

ISBN

9783775711692

Language

German

Category

Solo Exhibitions

Exhibitions

Published on the occasion of the exhibition Gerhard Richter. 40 Years of Painting at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, this publication represents a broad range of Gerhard Richter's paintings of the last 40 years

...
More Details
Gerhard Richter. Malerei Storr, Robert  2002