Gerhard Richter

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How do you view the paintings you have made of women?
Well, I did notice again, just recently, looking at all the combined paintings of women in the New York exhibition, that I was surprised at how contradictory the images were. There are the images of idealized women, starting with the Ema nude [CR: 134], where she really seems to be descending the stairs like an angel coming down from heaven. Then there's the painting of the daughter [CR: 663-5], which is also an idealization since its essence is a longing for culture, for the beauty in art which we no longer have, which is why she turns away. Then we have the Lesende [Reading Woman] [CR: 804], which is also an idealized image because she is so taken by Vermeer, the artist-god, that she tries to represent a similar beauty. Who knows, maybe those are desired ideals. And then there's the other side, the victims. The black-and-white paintings of women have more to do with their everyday lives, which only attract attention when something untoward happens to them – when they become victims, like the eight student nurses [CR: 130], and others. The Isa paintings [CR: 790-4,790-5] were based on photographs I took. And I never painted my mother as such; there's only a family portrait [CR: 30] in which she appears.

Interview with Babette Richter, 2002, 2002 SOURCE
Gerhard Richter: Text. Writings, Interviews and Letters 1961–2007, Thames & Hudson, London, 2009, p. 14

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