The Metropolitan Museum of Art will present a major loan exhibition devoted to the work of one of the greatest artists of our time: Gerhard Richter (German, born Dresden 1932), during the celebratory 150th year of its founding. On view at The Met Breuer from March 4 through July 5, 2020, Gerhard Richter: Painting After All (Floors 3 & 4) will span the artist’s six decade-long preoccupation with the twin modes of painterly naturalism and chromatic abstraction, in relation to photographic and other representational iconographies.
Comprising over 100 works from a prolific career—encompassing paintings, glass sculptures, prints, and photographs—the exhibition will present an incisive cut through Richter’s entire body of works. Significant early works will be brought into visual dialogue with recent ones that share a singular engagement with postwar avant-garde art practices, particularly his investigations into the ongoing formal and conceptual possibilities of painting. This is evident through his often-simultaneous production of both abstract and figurative compositions, the chromatic and conceptual nuances of gray across different media, and his interpretations of landscape and portraiture. Interwoven throughout the show will be works that testify to Richter’s long reckoning with history, as well as his exploration of photography’s relationship to realism and its mediation of memory.
The exhibition will be the first major exhibition in the United States on the work of Gerhard Richter in nearly twenty years. Gerhard Richter: Painting After All will feature several iconic works such as Uncle Rudi (1965), Betty (1977), and September (2005), and will also highlight many lesser-known works such as his series of monoprints from 1957 titled Elbe. Galleries devoted to single series including the twelve paintings entitled Forest (1995), will provide an immersive experience. Finally, two new glass works Gray Mirrors (4 Parts) (2018) and House of Cards (5Panes) (2020) will be exhibited for the first time.
Of equal importance, Gerhard Richter: Painting After All will highlight two important recent series by the artist that will serve as significant points of departure for the exhibition: Birkenau (2014) andCage (2006), both of which will be exhibited in the United States for the first time. Richter’s encounter with the only known photographs taken by prisoners inside the Nazi concentration camp led to the creation of the Birkenau series. The four paintings speak to Richter’s belief in painting as a powerful means to address the complex and often-difficult legacies of both personal and civic history. The six Cage paintings are key to understanding his lifelong preoccupation with abstraction through a different lens. In homage to the American composer and philosopher John Cage, whose innovative compositional techniques used chance as a way to ”imitate nature,” Richter’s meticulous multi-layered paintings are based on similar principles of calculated incidents.
Following its presentation in New York, the exhibition will travel to the Museum of Contemporary Art (August 14, 2020–January 19, 2021).
Gerhard Richter: Painting After All is co-curated by Sheena Wagstaff, Leonard A. Lauder Chairman, Modern and Contemporary Art at The Met and Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Modern Art in the Department of History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University, with Brinda Kumar, Assistant Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art at The Met.
It will be accompanied by a catalogue featuring essays by the curators and other scholars including Briony Fer, Hal Foster, Peter Geimer and André Rottmann, who approach Richter’s work from fresh perspectives. The catalogue is made possible by the Mary C. and James W. Fosburgh Publications Fund.
The exhibition is made possible by the Barrie A. and Deedee Wigmore Foundation. Major support is provided by David S. Winter. Additional funding is provided by Angela A. Chao and Jim Breyer, Jane C. Carroll, the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, Kenneth and Rosalind Landis, and Stuart and Gina Peterson.
The exhibition will be featured on the Museum’s website, as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter using the hashtag #MetRichter.