Gerhard Richter: 40 Years of Painting

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), San Francisco, USA

11 October 2002 – 14 January 2003

Stadtbild PL
Townscape PL

1970 200 cm x 200 cm Catalogue Raisonné: 249

Oil on canvas

If one looks at the large-format square townscapes [CR: 171, 175–177-3, 249–251], specific features of the artistic execution can be discerned.

In Townscape Madrid [CR: 171] streets, trees and buildings are clearly structured and easily recognisable. Some townscapes which were painted a little later on, such as Townscape Paris [CR: 175], Townscape D [CR: 176] and versions of Townscape F [CR: 177/1-3] and Townscape PL [CR: 249–251], appear to have been painted more quickly and less precisely; many details vanish due to the gestural and pastose application of paint. In Townscape Paris in particular, it is difficult to distinguish streets from houses.

Because of the missing details, the large-format cityscapes recall aerial photographs of post-war bombed-out cities – a parallel which Gerhard Richter himself draws in retrospect: "When I look back on the townscapes now, they do seem to me to recall certain images of the destruction of Dresden during the war."1

Gerhard Richter's artistic examination of figuration and abstraction in the townscapes also seems to play with distances: from afar the pictures can easily be identified as cityscapes, however, should the beholder move closer to the painting, the depiction dissolves into expanses and strokes of white, grey and black.

The artist plays with the viewer's urge to identify what is depicted, and it seems as if Richter himself tries to fathom when the image ceases to be recognisable.
Richter describes his preoccupation with bird’s-eye views of cities as "abandonment of the concept of interesting content and illusionistic painting; a spot of paint should be a spot of paint, and the motif needn't have a message or allow for interpretation."2 Nevertheless, in this series Gerhard Richter does not completely depart from his originally concrete motifs, as underlined by the choice of the descriptive title Townscape.

1 Comments on some works, 1991 in: Gerhard Richter: Text. Writings, Interviews and Letters 1961–2007, Thames & Hudson, London, 2009, p. 262
2 'Work Overview', 1968 in: Gerhard Richter: Text, p. 53

Notes prepared by editorial team

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, USA



This artwork is based on an image included in Atlas:

This artwork was shown in the following exhibitions:

This artwork is included in the following publications:

Title Author Date

Publisher

Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern (2014)

Details

Hardback, 337 pages

ISBN

9783775735193

ISBN

3775735194

Language

English

Category

Monographs
ArtworkMentioned: p. 120 

The publication Gerhard Richter. Editions 1965 – 2013 updates the catalogue raisonné of his editions that was published ten years earlier. This book includes additionally 35 new and hitherto unknown works

...
More Details
Gerhard Richter. Editions 1965–2013 Butin, Hubertus / Gronert, Stefan / Olbricht, Thomas  2014

Publisher

Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern (2014)

Details

Hardback, 337 pages

ISBN

9783775735186

ISBN

3775735186

Language

German

Category

Monographs
ArtworkMentioned: p. 120 

The publication Gerhard Richter. Editionen 1965 – 2013 updates the catalogue raisonné of his editions that was published ten years earlier. This book includes additionally 35 new and hitherto unknown works

...
More Details
Gerhard Richter. Editionen 1965–2013 Butin, Hubertus / Gronert, Stefan / Olbricht, Thomas  2014

Publisher

Prestel, München (2012)

Details

Hardback, 305 pages

ISBN

9783791351896

Language

German

Category

Solo Exhibitions
ArtworkMentioned: pp. 74-79 

Exhibitions

Gerhard Richter. Panorama. Retrospektive Godfrey, Mark / Serota, Nicholas / Brill, Dorothée / Morineau, Camille / Borchardt-Hume, Achim / Dickson, Amy / Haidu, Rachel / Mehring, Christine  2012

Publisher

Édition du Centre Pompidou, Paris (2012)

Details

Hardback, 304 pages

ISBN

978284426574X

Language

French

Category

Solo Exhibitions
ArtworkDiscussed: pp. 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 81 

Exhibitions

Gerhard Richter. Panorama. Rétrospective Godfrey, Mark / Serota, Nicholas / Brill, Dorothée / Morineau, Camille / Borchardt-Hume, Achim / Dickson, Amy / Haidu, Rachel / Mehring, Christine  2012

Publisher

Tate Publishing (2011)

Details

Softcover, 304 pages

ISBN

9781854379443

ISBN

9781854379450

Language

English

Category

Solo Exhibitions
ArtworkMentioned: pp. 74-78 

Exhibitions

Gerhard Richter. Panorama. A Retrospective Godfrey, Mark / Serota, Nicholas / Brill, Dorothée / Morineau, Camille / Borchardt-Hume, Achim / Dickson, Amy / Haidu, Rachel / Mehring, Christine  2011

Publisher

Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern-Ruit (2008)

Details

Hardback, 160 pages

ISBN

3775722483

Language

German

Category

Solo Exhibitions
ArtworkMentioned: p. 137 

Exhibitions

The book was published on the occasion of the exhibition Gerhard Richter. Abstrakte Bilder at Museum Ludwig, Cologne and Haus der Kunst, Munich. The exhibitions were dedicated to Gerhard Richter’s abstract pictures

...
More Details
Gerhard Richter. Abstrakte Bilder Wilmes, Ulrich / Buchloh, Benjamin H. D. / Söntgen, Beate / Stemmrich, Gregor  2008

Publisher

Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern-Ruit (2008)

Details

Hardback, 160 pages

ISBN

9783775722490

Language

English

Category

Solo Exhibitions
ArtworkMentioned: p. 137 

Exhibitions

The book was published on the occasion of the exhibition Gerhard Richter. Abstrakte Bilder at Museum Ludwig, Cologne and Haus der Kunst, Munich. The exhibitions were dedicated to Gerhard Richter’s abstract pictures

...
More Details
Gerhard Richter. Large Abstracts Wilmes, Ulrich / Buchloh, Benjamin H. D. / Söntgen, Beate / Stemmrich, Gregor  2008
Die deutschen Beiträge zur Biennale Venedig, 1895-2007 Zeller, Ursula  2007

Publisher

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

Details

Softcover, 336 pages

ISBN

0870703552

Language

English

Category

Monographs
ArtworkMentioned: p. 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
ArtworkMentioned: pp. 250, 275, 444 
Discussed: p. 204 
Illustrated: p. 205 (b/w) 

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

Softcover, 144 pages

ISBN

9780870706875

Language

English

Category

Group Exhibitions
ArtworkIllustrated: p. 122 (colour) 
To Be Looked At McShine, Kynaston / Umland, Anne  2002

Publisher

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

Details

Hardback, Softcover, 340 pages

ISBN

189102437X

Language

English

Category

Solo Exhibitions
ArtworkMentioned: p. 42 
Illustrated: p. 148 (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
ArtworkMentioned: p. 40 
Illustrated: p. 148 (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

Gli Ori, Prato (1999)

Details

Softcover, 205 pages

ISBN

8887700079

Languages

Italian, English

Category

Solo Exhibitions
ArtworkMentioned: pp. 16, 30, 169, 171, 179, 181 

Exhibitions

Gerhard Richter Corà, Bruno / Buchloh, Benjamin H. D. / Chevrier, Jean Francois / Moscati, Italo  1999

Publisher

Insel-Verlag, Frankfurt a. M. (1998)

Details

Softcover, 172 pages

ISBN

345833937X

Language

German

Category

Monographs
ArtworkMentioned: pp. 53, 54 
Gerhard Richter, 18. Oktober 1977. Eine Kunst-Monographie Hemken, Kai-Uwe  1998

Publisher

Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam (1989)

Details

Softcover, 166 pages

ISBN

9069180464

Languages

Dutch, English

Category

Solo Exhibitions
ArtworkMentioned: pp. 25, 26 

Exhibitions

Gerhard Richter 1988/89 Schampers, Karel / Tilroe, Anna / Buchloh, Benjamin H. D.  1989
Gerhard Richter. Bilder = Paintings 1962 - 1985 Harten, Jürgen / Hering, Karl-Heinz / Honisch, Dieter / Loock, Ulrich / Ronte, Dieter / Elger, Dietmar  1986
Illusion and Reality Stringer, John / Lynn, Elwyn  1977

Publisher

Museum Folkwang, Essen (1972)

Details

Hardback, 154 pages

Languages

Italian, German, English

Category

Solo Exhibitions
ArtworkMentioned: pp. 10-11, 42 
Illustrated: pp. 65, 82 (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

This artwork is shown or mentioned in the following videos:

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