The cover of Gerhard Richter: Panorama (D.A.P./Tate)

In celebration of the new Gerhard Richter exhibition at Berlin’s Museum Barberini, Abstraction, on view till October 21st, here are a few words of wisdom from the legendary artist, taken from his popular monograph Panorama.

“A lot of people find other mediums more attractive — put a screen in a museum and nobody wants to look at the paintings any more. But painting is my profession, because it has always been the thing that interested me most. And now I’m of a certain age, come from a different tradition and, in any case, I can’t do anything else. I’m still very sure that painting is one of the most basic human capacities, like dancing and singing, that make sense, that stay with us, as something human.”

“It’s not that I’m always thinking about how to make something timeless, it’s more of a desire to maintain a certain artistic quality that moves us, that goes beyond what we are, and that is, in that sense, timeless.”

“The beginning is actually quite easy, because I can still be quite free about the way I handle things — colours, shapes. And so a picture emerges that may look quite good for a while, so airy and colourful and new. But that will only last for a day at most, at which point it starts to look cheap and fake. And then the real work begins — changing, eradicating, starting again, and so on, until it’s done.”

“I always knew that one cannot work once one has a beautiful apartment. In Dresden I could not imagine relinquishing achieved prosperity only to paint. Now I have nothing and I am very happy about it. The refrigerator should come about only along the way. [My] profession will shape the way I live, not the other way around as it mostly was in Dresden.”

Installation view of Gerhard Richter: Abstraction at Berlin’s Museum Barberini, photographed by Helge Mundt

192 Colors (136), 1966, by Gerhard Richter, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Sammlung Gerhard und Elisabeth Sohst, © Gerhard Richter 2018 (29062018), from Gerhard Richter: Abstraction; on home page: Strip painting by Gerhard Richter, photographed by Saar Leroy/Flickr

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