We all have a history, and while this past may not cripple us, it undeniably leaves it’s mark. This is not unlike Richter’s characteristic blur, which is at once present but indistinct, leaving a trace of something that may not be fully understood even by the individual possessing it.
Richter’s own family history of having relatives being both a part of the Nazi movement (uncle Rudi) and victimized by it (his mentally disabled aunt was imprisoned in a Hitler euthanasia camp), gives us a window into why Richter has such strong dislike for ideology of any kind.
This rejection of a singular way of existing as an artist, has benefited Richter during his nearly five decades of work which has resulted in shifts between landscape, portraiture and total abstraction in a way that few have ever attempted.
Coinciding with the artist’s 80th birthday, Gerhard Richter: Panorama is a major chronological retrospective that groups together significant moments of this remarkable painter’s career. It includes portraits based on photographs such as the famous Betty 1988, abstractions, subtle landscapes, colour charts, works on paper, mirrors and three important glass constructions.
Alongside works responding to historical events, the show presents many of Richter’s most ambitious abstract paintings from his 1974 colour chart containing 4096 different coloured squares, to his 20-metre long Stroke of 1980, presented for the first time outside Germany, to the magisterial and richly coloured Forest squeegee paintings of 1990, and culminating in the hauntingly beautiful six-part series Cage from 2006 on long loan to Tate. Gerhard Richter: Panorama is curated by Tate Director Nicholas Serota and Mark Godfrey.