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Z’s Review of Gerhard Richter Painting

We are in a time where art is changing how it is created. A time when recent advances in technology have created a decisive transition period between eras. The now classic, intrinsic raw manner of creating art is being replaced by art driven by gimmickry and as a result it’s tough to get a handle on art in the modern day as it is driven by commerce more than the idea of creation. What can sell is often more important than what provokes.

Gerhard Richter Painting captures the essence and mastery of one of the last talents of the last great age of art, Gerhard Richter.  With a mind as meticulous as it is curious, we get a glimpse of a true artist, the mechanics of how he puts together a painting as well as some rare insight into the man himself.

Filmed between April and September 2009 while he was getting ready for an exhibition of abstract paintings at Marian Goodman Gallery in New York, what was most intriguing about watching Gerhard Richter Painting, is the self-awareness that seems to plague him throughout. During one very uncomfortable moment for him, he professes that the painting he is creating is flawed because he has never been filmed while ‘in the act’. He can’t shake just how self-conscious he is feeling due to the presence of the camera. That observation in of itself is very telling as artists never allow their creative process to be documented on film or any other medium.

Director Corinne Belz does a masterful job of weaving a tale where we get to see the full machine behind the artist in action. One of the fascinating things that is part of the 80 year old Richter’s process is the creation a small scale model of whatever museum that the exhibition he is mounting. It is just as important to him to see the environment he is in and how the paintings will play off each other as the paintings are. For Richter, part of experiencing his art is ensuring that the environment around the art is proper.

Weaving in stories about his upbringing as well as his personal history as an artist gives a sense of how he became the man and artist that he is. It is little things like this that make this a lovely documentary to watch. The pacing is just right, not too fast that the little details are glossed over and not too slow where we feel we are literally watching paint dry.

An intriguing look into a world that is slowly fading away, Gerhard Richter Painting is a must watch if you have any interest in the process of creation.