Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden opens Gerhard Richter. Atlas

Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden presents Gerhard Richter. Atlas an exhibition from the Gerhard Richter Archive of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden in cooperation with the Lenbachhaus and Kunstbau, München. On view February 4 – April 22, 2012.

Gerhard Richter. Atlas Plate 442 copyright Gerhard Richter 2012

Gerhard Richter’s ATLAS merits a special place within his oeuvre as a whole. It not only forms the basis of his entire work as a painter but is also an autonomous artwork in its own right. Born in Dresden on 9th February 1932, Richter has been constantly revising and augmenting this “work in progress” for more than four decades.

By 1964, Richter had collected a vast amount of pictorial source material for his painting, first keeping it in drawers and portfolios. Five years later he began to sift through this material with a critical eye, grouping the individual photographs, reproductions and sketches into different themes and pasting them onto separate panels. Richter then soon recognized the intrinsic artistic quality of these collections of source material and, in 1972, framed the panels and exhibited them at the Museum Hedendaagse Kunst in Utrecht under the title ATLAS. Meanwhile this repository of source material has grown from its original 343 panels to its present 783, with more than 8,000 individual motifs.

ATLAS may be seen as an accompaniment, commentary and extension of the entire oeuvre of Gerhard Richter, for it also develops its own perspectives and poses its own questions. ATLAS is Richter’s reflection not only on his own work but also on the everyday world of images that he himself has documented photographically in their thousands. “I see countless landscapes, photograph barely one in 100,000, and paint barely 1 in 100 of those that I photograph,” Richter wrote in 1986. This photographed, yet and seemingly inexhaustible flood of images has afforded Richter a concentrated, ready accessibility of motifs for his future works. Indeed, for some of his paintings, he has been able to draw upon old motifs in his ATLAS, some of them dating back more than a decade.
The accompanying artist’s book “ATLAS” is not just intended as a means of documenting the exhibition. Gerhard Richter sees it as an alternative presentation to the exhibited panels, one that permits an additional, different, non-linear approach to the material. –

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