The Richter Scale

“Sometimes, when I see one of the photos, I think to myself: That’s too bad; you could have let this one or that one survive,” Richter recently confessed to Der Spiegel after admitting to destroying some of his artwork. He has a dark kind of humor; the image of a man knifing his canvases, or the crackling of photographs being reduced to ash, makes you cringe – if spared, this destroyed artwork would have probably fetched him half a billion euros.

Hailed and revered internationally as the best living German artist, with his diverse range of style, technique, and motif spanning well over half a century, Richter’s work is truly astounding. “The Editions: 1965 – 2011″ exhibition at me Collectors Room captures his impressive collection of print, photographic, and oil editions in all their glory. For Richter, editions serve as the counterpart to his unique and singular paintings – giving him the possibility to experiment through different media and transform art into new realities.

Gerhard Richter - Goldberg VariationenCredits: Gerhard Richter “Goldberg Variationen” 1984, Photo: Olbricht Collection, Achim Kukulies, Düsseldorf

Walking through the gallery, it’s easy to become mesmerized by Richter’s never-ending palette of colors and diverse use of surfaces – from cardboard, to aluminum and Bach records. Each of the 150 editions has its own story of transformation with a mix realism and abstraction that absolutely fits. All around people are captivated by different pieces, as if having discovered art for the first time.


Turning a corner, I am struck by a painting that speaks to all of my senses. I look up the name of the work  and find “September” to be quite fitting for the seasonal colors. Then it hits me: this is one of Richter’s 9/11 paintings. Richter’s characteristic blurring technique effectively captures the transient sweeping motion of planes and smoke. Clear without being clear; bringing me back to that day: the movement, the desperate stillness, everything was a blur. 

Still Going Strong…

A documentary screening upstairs gives an inside view into Richter’s artistic outlook and technique – showing, among other things, how he creates his signature abstract paintings using various squeegee devices to add and subtract layers of paint.

Need more Richter in your life after visiting the “Editions” exhibition? Then be sure to swing by Neue Nationalgalerie for the exhibition “Gerhard Richter: Panorama”  which runs through May 13th 2012. This parallel exhibition with 150 of Richter’s paintings and sculptures complements the array of editions on display at me Collectors Room. And if you need even more Richter after visiting both spectacular exhibitions, “Art I Destroyed” could very well be another exhibition of Richter’s work too. Check out this online gallery with pictures of some of the destroyed works (yes, he took pictures before destroying them – a lasting memory of what could have been), including a portrait of Hitler he deems “too spectacular” to have any value.

Me Collectors Room’s “Editions” exhibition on the Richter Scale? We give them a 10.

  • Me Collectors Room – “Gerhard Richter, Editions: 1965 – 2011” February 12th – May 13th  2012, Tue–Sun: 12am–6pm, Cafe Tue–Sun: 11.30am–6.30pm
Article written by Julie Anne Miranda-Brobeck