Gerhard Richter – Städtebilder

Gerhard Richter – Townscapes

Galerie Heiner Friedrich, Munich, Germany

14 April 1970 – 05 May 1970

Stadtbild PL
Townscape PL

1970 170 cm x 170 cm Catalogue Raisonné: 251

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

This artwork is based on an image included in Atlas:

This artwork is included in the following publications:

Title Author Date

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

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 
Illustrated: p. 27 (b/w) 

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

Publisher

Museum Folkwang, Essen (1972)

Details

Hardback, 154 pages

Languages

Italian, German, English

Category

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