Gerhard Richter quotes

  • Art is the highest form of hope.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Form #Art Is

  • Painting is my profession, because it has always been the thing that interested me most. I'm of a certain age, I come from a different tradition and, in any case, I can't do anything else. I'm still very sure that painting is one of the most basic human capacities, like dancing and singing, that make sense, that stay with us, as something human.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Dancing #Singing #Age

  • Now there are no priests or philosophers left, artists are the most important people in the world.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #People #Important

  • I don't how I can describe the quality that is only found in art (be it music, literature, painting, or whatever), this quality, it's just there, and it endures.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Quality #Literature

  • Since there is no such thing as absolute rightness and truth, we always pursue the artificial, leading, human truth. We judge and make a truth that excludes other truths. Art plays a formative part in this manufacture of truth.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Play #Judging

  • Art is the ideal medium for making contact with the transcendental, or at least for getting close to it.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Transcendental #Mediums

  • To talk about paintings is not only difficult but perhaps pointless too. You can only express in words what words are capable of expressing-- what language can communicate. Painting has nothing to do with that.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Painting #Language #Difficult

  • Art shows us how to see things that are constructive and good, and to be an active part of that.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Shows #Constructive

  • I find the Romantic period extraordinarily interesting. My landscapes have connections with Romanticism: at times I feel a real desire for, an attraction to, this period, and some of my pictures are a homage to Caspar David Friedrich.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Real #Interesting

  • I am thankful that the church exists, thankful that it has done such great things, giving us laws, for instance - 'thou shalt' and 'thou shalt not', and established Goodness and Evil. That's what all religions do, and as soon as we try to replace them, worldly religions like fascism and communism take over.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Law #Evil #Giving

  • Of course I constantly despair at my own incapacity, at the impossibility of ever accomplishing anything, of painting a valid, true picture or even knowing what such a thing ought to look like. But then I always have the hope that, if I persevere, it might one day happen. And this hope is nurtured every time something appears, a scattered, partial, initial hint of something which reminds me of what I long for, or which conveys a hint of it – although often enough I have been fooled by a momentary glimpse that then vanishes, leaving behind only the usual thing.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Knowing #Long #Leaving

  • I often need a long time to understand things, to imagine a painting I might make.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Long #Needs #Might

  • The photograph is the most perfect picture. It does not change; it is absolute, and therefore autonomous, unconditional, devoid of style. Both in its way of informing, and in what it informs of, it is my source.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Photography #Perfect #Style

  • I like everything that has no style: dictionaries, photographs, nature, myself and my paintings. (Because style is violent, and I am not violent.)
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Style #Painting #Photograph

  • My paintings are wiser than I am.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Painting #Wiser

  • Picturing things, taking a view, is what makes us human; art is making sense and giving shape to that sense. It is like the religious search for God.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Religious #Art #Views

  • I am ridiculously old-fashioned.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Old Fashioned

  • Art should be serious, not a joke. I dont like to laugh about art.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Laughing #Serious

  • I want pictorial content without sentiment, but I want it as human as possible
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Want #Sentiments #Humans

  • I go to the studio every day, but I dont paint every day. I love playing with my architectural models. I love making plans. I could spend my life arranging things.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Love Making #Paint #Plans

  • Weeks go by, and I dont paint until finally I cant stand it any longer. I get fed up. I almost dont want to talk about it, because I dont want to become self-conscious about it, but perhaps I create these little crises as a kind of a secret strategy to push myself.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Self #Secret #Want

  • The year is always correct, also the month, only the day can be another. But that occurs to me only in the moment of writing it down.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Writing #Years

  • Almost every work of art is an analogy. When I make a representation of something, this too is an analogy to what exists; I make an effort to get a grip on the thing by depicting it. I prefer to steer clear of anything aesthetic, so as not to set obstacles in my own way and not to have the problem of people saying: 'Ah, yes, that's how he sees the world, that's his interpretation.'
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #People #Effort

  • I believe that art has a kind of rightness, as in music, when we hear whether or not a note is false
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Believe #Kind

  • Of course, pictures of objects also have this transcendental side to them. Every object, being part of an ultimately incomprehensible world, also embodies that world; when represented in a picture, the object conveys this mystery all the more powerfully, the less of a 'function' the picture has. Hence, for instance, the growing fascination of many beautiful old portraits.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Beautiful #Art #Fascination

  • The paint for the grey paintings was mixed beforehand and then applied with different implements - sometimes a roller, sometimes a brush. It was only after painting them that I sometimes felt that the grey was not yet satisfactory and that another layer of paint was needed.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Different #Layers

  • What attracted me about my mirrors was the idea of having nothing manipulated in them. A piece of bought mirror. Just hung there, without any addition, to operate immediately and directly. Even at the risk of being boring. Mere demonstration. The mirrors, and even more the Panes of Glass, were also certainly directed against Duchamp, against his Large Glass.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Glasses #Mirrors

  • I started doing 'figures', then, one day, all of a sudden, I started doing abstraction. And then I started doing both. But it was never really a conscious decision. It was simply a question of desire. In fact, I really prefer making figurative work, but the figure is difficult. So to work around the difficulty I take a break and paint abstractly. Which I really like, by the way, because it allows me to make beautiful paintings.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Beautiful #Art #Decision

  • My method is related to an attempt to do something that might be understood by today's world, or that could at least provide understanding. In other words, doing something I understand and that everyone understands. This natural desire for communication is also found in other domains, like reading and discourse, etc. I also hate repeating myself; it gives me no pleasure whatsoever. Once I've understood something, I need to start off on new ground.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Hate #Communication

  • Unlike the photography and prints, I never catalogued, kept track of or exhibited the sketches. I sold some occasionally, but never saw myself as a graphic artist. They became more important to me thanks to the exhibition, however, and I realized that these drawings were quite interesting after all.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Photography #Art #Drawing

  • I've never found anything to be lacking in a blurry canvas. Quite the contrary: you can see many more things in it than in a sharply focused image. A landscape painted with exactness forces you to see a determined number of clearly differentiated trees, while in a blurry canvas you can perceive as many trees as you want. The painting is more open.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Numbers #Tree

  • Pictures are the idea in visual or pictorial form; and the idea has to be legible, both in the individual picture and in the collective context - which presupposes, of course, that words are used to convey information about the idea and the context. However, none of this means that pictures function as illustrations of an idea: ultimately, they are the idea. Nor is the verbal formulation of the idea a translation of the visual: it simply bears a certain resemblance to the meaning of the idea. It is an interpretation, literally a reflection.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Mean #Reflection

  • A work of art is itself an object, first of all, and so manipulation is unavoidable: it's a prerequisite. But I needed the greater objectivity of the photograph in order to correct my own way of seeing: for instance, if I draw an object from nature, I start to stylize and to change it in accordance with my personal vision and my training. But if I paint from a photograph, I can forget all the criteria that I get from these sources. I can paint against my will, as it were. And that, to me, felt like an enrichment.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Photography #Art #Objectivity

  • Photography has almost no reality; it is almost a hundred per cent picture. And painting always has reality: you can touch the paint; it has presence; but it always yields a picture - no matter whether good or bad. That's all the theory. It's no good. I once took some small photographs and then smeared them with paint. That partly resolved the problem, and it's really good - better than anything I could ever say on the subject.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Photography #Reality #Yield

  • As a matter of fact, it was only through the dealer Fred Jahn that I succeeded in overcoming my reservation about the works on paper and exhibiting them. Added to this, of course, was the fact that after ten years I could see the watercolours in a different light, and in conjunction with pictures painted afterwards, they had at least become more comprehensible to me.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Years #Light #Paper

  • Painting pictures is simply the official, the daily work, the profession, and in the case of the watercolours I can sooner afford to follow my mood, my spirits.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Spirit #Painting #Mood

  • Family photos, pictures of groups, those are truely wonderful. And they are just as good as the old masters, just as rich and just as beautifully composed (what does that mean anyway).
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Mean #Groups

  • When I paint from a photograph, conscious thinking is eliminated. I don't know what I am doing. My work is far closer to the Informel than to any kind of 'realism'. The photograph has an abstraction of its own, which is not easy to see through.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Thinking #Kind

  • As far as the surface is concerned - oil on canvas, conventionally applied - my pictures have little to do with the original photograph. They are totally painting (whatever that may mean). On the other hand, they are so like the photograph that the thing that distinguished the photograph from all other pictures remains intact.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Mean #Hands

  • Perhaps the choice is a negative one, in that I was trying to avoid everything that touched on well-known issues - or any issues at all, whether painterly, social or aesthetic. I tried to find nothing too explicit, hence all the banal subjects; and then, again, I tried to avoid letting the banal turn into my issue and my trademark. So it's all evasive action, in a way.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Issues #Choices

  • Perhaps the Doors, Curtains, Surface Pictures, Panes of Glass, etc. are metaphors of despair, prompted by the dilemma that our sense of sight causes us to apprehend things, but at the same time restricts and partly precludes our apprehension of reality.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Reality #Doors

  • The first colour charts were unsystematic. They were based directly on commercial colour samples. They were still related to Pop Art. In the canvases that followed, the colours were chosen arbitrarily and drawn by chance. Then, 180 tones were mixed according to a given system and drawn by chance to make four variations of 180 tones. But after that the number 180 seemed too arbitrary to me, so I developed a system based on a number of rigorously defined tones and proportions.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Numbers #Variation

  • Based on mixtures of the three primary colours, along with black and white, I come up with a certain number of possible colours and, by multiplying these by two or four, I obtain a definite number of colour fields that I multiply yet again by two, etc. But the complete realization of this project demands a great deal of time and work.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Black And White #Two

  • I believe that he knew more what he was doing. I might be absolutely wrong about this, but that was my impression.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Believe #Might

  • The grey is certainly inspired by the photo-paintings, and, of course, it's related to the fact that I think grey is an important colour - the ideal colour for indifference, fence-sitting, keeping quiet, despair. In other words, for states of being and situations that affect one, and for which one would like to find a visual expression.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Thinking #Expression

  • Art is always to a large extent about need, despair and hopelessness.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Despair #Needs

  • You can compare it to dreams: you have a very specific and individual pictorial language that you either accept or that you can translate rashly and wrongly. Of course, you can ignore dreams, but that would be a shame, because they're useful.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Dream #Would Be #Language

  • I don't know what motivated the artist, which means that the paintings have an intrinsic quality. I think Goethe called it the 'essential dimension,' the thing that makes great works of art great.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Mean #Greatness

  • In truth, factual information - names or dates - have never interested me much. Those things are like an alien language that can interfere with the language of the painting, or even prevent its emergence.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Names #Information #Language

  • With a brush you have control. The paint goes on the brush and you make the mark. From experience you know exactly what will happen. With the squeegee you lose control.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Goes On #Paint #Brushes

  • When we describe a process, or make out an invoice, or photograph a tree, we create models; without them we would know nothing of reality and would be animals.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Reality #Animal #Tree

  • When I make a representation of something, this, too, is an analogy to what exists; I make an effort to get a grip on the thing by depicting it.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Effort #Analogies #Representation

  • Painting is consequently an almost blind, desperate effort, like that of a person abandoned, helpless, in totally incomprehensible surroundings.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Effort #Painting #Blind

  • My work has so much to do with reality that I wanted to have a corresponding rightness. That excludes painting in imitation.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Reality #Painting #Imitation

  • Theory has nothing to do with a work of art. Pictures which are interpretable, and which contain a meaning, are bad pictures. A picture presents itself as the Unmanageable, the Illogical, the Meaningless.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Theory #Illogical

  • I would like to try to understand what is. We know very little, and I am trying to do it by creating analogies. Almost every work of art is an analogy.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Creating #Understanding

  • My landscapes are not only beautiful or nostalgic, with a Romantic or classical suggestion of lost Paradises, but above all 'untruthful'...
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Beautiful #Deception #Paradise

  • If I don't know what's coming - that is, if I have no hard-and-fast image, as I have with a photographic original - then arbitrary choice and chance play an important part.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Play #Choices #Important

  • Only about one per cent of my paintings show family members. Do they help me deal with problems? It's likely that these problems can only be depicted. But photographs, private ones and others, keep appearing that fascinate me so much that I want to paint them. And sometimes the real meaning these images have for me only becomes apparent later.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Real #Want

  • I first came up with the idea for the colour-chart pictures back in 1966, and my preoccupation with the topic culminated in 1974 with a painting that consisted of 4,096 colour fields. Initially I was attracted by the typical Pop Art aestheticism of using standard colour-sample cards; I preferred the unartistic, tasteful and secular illustration of the different tones to the paintings of Albers, Bill, Calderara, Lohse, etc.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Illustration #Ideas

  • Turning to the colour-classification methodology: The starting point are the four pure colours red, yellow, green and blue; their in-between shades and scales of brightness result in colour schemes containing 16, 64, 256 and 1,024 shades. More colours would be pointless because it wouldn't be possible to distinguish between them clearly.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Blue #Yellow

  • Architecture was, or is, a kind of hobby, an inclination I have to fiddling around and building things. Putting up shelves or cupboards, or making tools, or designing houses ... it always has a functional or social motivation. If social changes are in the air, I am gripped immediately by the desire to build, and I think that I accelerate or anticipate changes in my life by doing so, at least in draft. In the case of my house, that was anticipation: in other words, first build, then change one's life.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Motivation #Thinking

  • Everything has a reason, including the selection of the photos, which was not arbitrary but appropriate to the period, its highs and lows and my sense of them.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Arbitrary #Painting

  • The desire to please is maligned, unfairly. There are many sides to it. First of all, pictures have to arouse interest before people will even look at them, and then they have to show something that holds that interst - and naturally they have to be presentable, just as a song has to be sung well, otherwise people run away. One mustn't underrate this quality, and I have always been delighted when my pieces have also appealed to the museum guards, the laymen.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Running #Song #Art

  • I remember that I felt I had to avoid all these sensational photos, the hanged woman, the man who shot himself, and so forth. I collected a great deal of material, including a number of banal, irrelevant photos, and then in the course of my work I came back to the very pictures I had actually wanted to avoid, which summed up the various stories.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Men #Numbers

  • A lot of different things had to come together over the years, accumulated experiences of a general and personal nature, before the idea and the decision were developed and then carried out.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Years #Ideas

  • Well, the beginning is actually quite easy, because I can still be quite free about the way I handle things - colours, shapes. And so a picture emerges that may look quite good for a while, so airy and colourful and new. But that will only last for a day at most, at which point it starts to look cheap and fake. And then the real work begins - changing, eradicating, starting again, and so on, until it's done.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Real #Fake

  • Well, I don't believe there are subjects that can't be painted, but there are a lot of things that I personally can't paint.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Believe #Painting

  • I'm trying to paint a picture of what I have seen and what moved me, as well as I can. That's all.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Trying #Painting

  • The reason these paintings are destined for New York is not because I am disappointed about a lack of German interest, but because MoMA asked me, and because I consider it to be the best museum in the world.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #New York #Museums

  • I don't mistrust reality, of which I know next to nothing. I mistrust the picture of reality conveyed to us by our senses, which is imperfect and circumscribed.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Photography #Reality #Next

  • As I see it, all of them - Tachists, Action Painters, Informel artists, and the rest - are only part of an Informel movement that covers a lot of other things as well. I think there's an Informel element in Beuys, as well; but it all began with Duchamp and chance, or with Mondrian, or with the Impressionists. The Informel is the opposite of the constructional quality of classicism - the age of kings, or clearly formed hierarchies.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Kings #Thinking

  • Without form, communication stops... without form, you have everybody burbling on to themselves, whenever and however, things that no one else can understand and - rightly - no one else is interested in.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Communication #Form

  • Yes, we were amazed when that happened. It was a real joke to us. Konrad Lueg and I did a Happening, and we used the phrase just for the Happening, to have a catchy name for it; and then it immediately got taken up and brought into use. There's no defence against that - and really it's no bad thing.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Real #Taken

  • That was a piece I did in 1963 with Konrad Lueg in a department store, in the furniture department. It was announced in some papers as an exhibition opening, but the people who came didn't know that it was to be a sort of Happening. I don't think it is quite right that it has become so famous anyhow. It was just a lot of fun, and the word itself, Capitalist Realism, hit just right. But it wasn't such a big deal.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Fun #Thinking

  • I originally came from Dresden, where Socialist Realism prevailed. Konrad Lueg and I came up with it, for the most part ironically, since I now live in capitalism. It was certainly 'realism', but in another form - the capitalist form, as it were. It wasn't meant that seriously. It was more a slogan for that particular Happening at a furniture store.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Furniture #Form

  • Art is the pure realization of religious feeling, capacity for faith, longing for God. ... The ability to believe is our outstanding quality, and only art adequately translates it into reality. But when we assuage our need for faith with an ideology we court disaster.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Religious #Art #Believe

  • Maybe we didn't even have a chance. The message of American Pop Art was so powerful and so optimistic. But it was also very limited, and that led us to believe that we could somehow distance ourselves from it and communicate a different intention.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Powerful #Distance

  • I'm never really sure what that word means, but however inaccurately I use it, 'classical' was always my ideal, as long as I can remember, and something of that has always stayed with me, to this day. Of course, there were difficulties, because in comparison to my ideal, I didn't even come close.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Mean #Long

  • It's that same quality I've been talking about. It's neither contrived, nor surprising and smart, not baffling, not witty, not interesting, not cynical, it can't be planned and it probably can't even be described. It's just good.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Witty #Art #Talking

  • A student researching into my work has actually traced the newspapers and magazines where I found theses images and has found out that many of them illustrate a collection of gruesome stories, murders and suicides which contrast with the images used. There is a contrast between the message carried by the text and that suppressed by the illustration.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Suicide #Art #Illustration

  • But my motivation was more a matter of wanting to create order - to keep track of things. All those boxes full of photographs and sketches weigh you down, because they have something unfinished, incomplete, about them. So it's better to present the usable material in an orderly fashion and throw the other stuff away. That's how the Atlas came to be, and I exhibited it a few times.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Fashion #Art #Motivation

  • The Atlas belongs to the Lenbachhaus in Munich - it's long since ceased to belong to me. Occasionally I run across it somewhere, and I think it's interesting because it looks different each time.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Running #Art #Thinking

  • In the beginning I tried to accommodate everything there that was somewhere between art and garbage and that somehow seemed important to me and a pity to throw away. After a while, some sheets in the Atlas acquired another value, after all - that is, it seemed to me that they could stand on their own terms, not only under the protection of the Atlas.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Important #Atlas

  • Composition is a side issue. Its role in my selection of photographs is a negative one at best. By which I mean that the fascination of a photograph is not in its eccentric composition but in what it has to say: its information content. And, on the other hand, composition always also has its own fortuitous rightness.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Mean #Hands

  • I don't create blurs. Blurring is not the most important thing; nor is it an identity tag for my pictures.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Important #Identity

  • This superficial blurring has something to do with the incapacity I have just mentioned. I can make no statement about reality clearer than my own relationship to reality; and this has a great deal to do with imprecision, uncertainty, transience, incompleteness, or whatever. But this doesn't explain the pictures. At best it explains what led to their being painted.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Art #Reality #Technique

  • How could one be in this world without feeling dismayed by it? Even if one paints flowers and gingerbread.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Flower #Feelings #Gingerbread

  • It is a danger to wait around for an idea to occur to you. You have to find the idea.
    -- Gerhard Richter

    #Ideas #Waiting #Danger