• Gerhard Richter with Zehn groβe Farbtafeln (Ten Large Colour Charts), 1966, on the rooftop of his studio at Fürstenwall 204, Düsseldorf, 1966 © Gerhard Richter, 2015

  • Sänger (Singer) by Gerhard Richter, 1965-1966, the Collection of Marsha and Jeffrey Perelman Delfanne © Gerhard Richter, 2015

  • 192 Farben (192 Colours) by Gerhard Richter, 1966, Elisabeth and Gerhard Sohst Collection, on loan to the Hamburger Kunsthalle © Gerhard Richter, 2015

  • Fünfzehn Farben (Fifteen Colours) by Gerhard Richter, 1966-1996, photographed by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc. © Gerhard Richter, 2015

  • Sechs Gelb (Six Yellows) by Gerhard Richter, 1966, Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden, photographed by Volker Naumann, Schönaich © Gerhard Richter, 2015
Gerhard Richter’s oeuvre spans a myriad of subjects and styles — beautifully blurred portraits, glass sculptures, photo paintings, even a towering stained glass window (at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany). But he’s most famous for his wonderfully gestural abstract works, where you can feel the force of every stroke, swirl and squeegeed swath of paint. They evoke a riot of textures, colors and layers, and an energy.

All of which makes his current show at London’s Dominique Lévy gallery such a delightful surprise. Gerhard Richter: Colour Charts (on view until January 16, 2016) spotlights his lesser-known color-chart paintings from early in his career. The cool, almost clinical series, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, is seminal because the works were among his first to explore color in painting and, for any Richter fan, sheds light on the productive decades to come. The Pop inspiration behind it? Paint sample cards at a Düsseldorf hardware store.

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