Gerhard Richter: Multiples 1965-97
02.08.97 – 27.09.97
This exhibition was the first survey in the UK of Gerhard Richter’s complete collection of more than a 100 multiples and editions. It included objects, photographs, oil paintings, prints, and artist’s books made by the artist up until that moment.
Throughout his career, Richter has often used pre-existing images as the basis of his works, such as photographs taken by him, newspaper clippings, or his own paintings. His photographic and reproduction techniques (such as offset print, silkscreen, heliograph and collotype) put into question the relationship between industrial technique and artistic craftmanship, as well as the idea of the artist as the direct and autonomous creator; in creating this ambiguity, ‘he removes all personal and subjective elements from these works – exactly those qualities which otherwise tend to be valued so highly’. [Fruitmarket Gallery exhibition guide, 1997]
The print multiples presented in the exhibition, such as Ema (Nude on a Staircase) (1992), take Richter’s own paintings to make reproductions of the same title. However, his original paintings were also made using colour photographs printed from other photographs. In other words, his reproductions undergo a four-stage process: from a photograph to an oil painting, back to a photograph, and finally to an offset print. Each media distances itself further and further from the original image; as art historian Briony Fer has said of Richter’s work of that period, it ‘contradicts not only what we think we know, but also what we think we see.’ [Briony Fer, On Abstract Art, 1997, Yale University Press, p. 157]
During the time of the exhibition, there was a series of talks (such as ‘Richter and the Avant-Garde’ by David Macrae), videos (featuring Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Viking Eggeling and Hans Richter) and film screenings (showing German films from the 1960s and ‘70s) at the Fruitmarket Gallery to provide context for Richter’s work.
This exhibition was organised in collaboration with the Anthony d’Offay Gallery.
Marieta Guzman – Fruitmarket Archive Intern, Goldsmiths, University of London, 2022