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Gerhard Richter

Familie nach altem Meister

Information about the artwork

  • Translated titleFamily after Old Master
  • Year1965
  • MaterialOil on canvas
  • Dimensions147 x 155 cm
  • Year of acquisition1987
  • Inventory numberUAB 363
  • On viewCurrently not exhibited
  • Copyright© Gerhard Richter 2020. Photo: Haydar Koyupinar, Museum Brandhorst, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich

More about the artwork

When Gerhard Richter created this painting, he was already 33 years old. It nevertheless counts among the artist’s earlier existing works, and is listed as number 26 in his catalogue of paintings. The reason for this is that Richter destroyed everything he had produced before his flight from the German Democratic Republic in 1961. This work is exemplary of his œuvre in many respects. Instead of composing a motif himself, he chose a photographic reference: a black-and-white catalogue illustration of John Singleton Copley’s family portrait “The Copley Family” (1776–77). Imitating photography’s motion blur, he transferred the image back onto canvas. Richter’s style of painting is deliberately impersonal. He refrains from painterly gestures and thus imitates the smoothness of the photographic surface. Richter thus illustrates how closely photography and painting are intertwined. Just as photography carries traces of different painterly modes and genres—such as the group portrait—painting has also responded to and incorporated the aesthetic manifestations of mechanically reproduced images.

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