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Charts in the Summer Night


September Issue of HI Art, 2009

When not painting, I would rather talk nonsense with tea and sunflower seeds than discuss affairs in art circles. Of course “art” includes various sectors, and here I just refer to visual art: I do not want to mention anything regarding to it at all. However, I have to make an exception when writing the column for HI Art, because this is a professional magazine and my articles should have something to do with art, or, as what the young editors have advised, have a little to do with art.

At the end of June, 2009, the Times in England released the greatest 200 artists in the 20th century. Picasso stands on the top, followed by Cezanne, Andy Warhol, Richter, Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, and so on. In the list there were 4 Japanese artists: Takashi Myrakami, Yayoi Kusama, Sugimoto Hiroshi, and Isamu Noguchi. However, no Chinese artist was covered. Just a few days ago, a European art company carried out a survey, whose result showed that the Top 5 artists whose works had the most investment values were: Gerhard Richter, Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, Robert Gober, and Andreas Gursky, with Richter listed first. Among them I only know Richter and Jeff Koons. I know the former from someone’s talking: now a lot of Chinese artists are imitating him directly, and some of them have even succeeded in business and academy and obtained both money and fame. Then I came home and searched Richter on the internet, finding a lot of Chinese websites related with him. As to Jeff Koons, I saw his works in a foreign gallery long before: a dog made of twisted colorful “balloons”. Having observed it carefully without finding anything special, I was going to invective the creator when a waiter came to me. He suggested that I knock at the work, and only after that did I find the seemingly “balloons” were made of stainless steel. It was so vivid. How delicate foreign metal craft is! From then on I have remembered Jeff Koons.

Richter’s works can be classified into 3 categories: abstracts, out-of-focus paintings, and photos. Frankly, among them, only the out-of-focus oil paintings are with unique hints, and the other two are rather common. Some critiques say that those blurred pictures have contributed a lot to aesthetics, while that may not be absolutely true. The point is, with that method, Richter had depicted a Nazi Solider in his Uncle Rudy (1965); he had also created October 18th, 1977 (1988). Then the German Red Brigades, which was fairly famous in Europe, was suppressed by the government, and in the painting, several members fasted to death or hung themselves. It was rather dangerous to do these two things: depicting a Nazi soldier with a winner’s smile (in particular, Richter was also a German) and drawing the suppression over German Red Brigades composed of several anti-American youth, which was called the biggest terrorist organization then, by Germany government under the pressure from America. An artist’s mission and conscience just lie in his courage of facing the social reality and revealing its nature: this is why people respect and welcome some artists and what an artist should consider first during his creation.

Richter’s personal exhibitions named after October 18th, 1977 series have been held successively in Haus Esters Museum of Keller Field, Germany (1989), ICA, Institute of Contemporary Art of London (1989), Saint Louis Art Museum in America (1990), Gray Gallery in New York (1990), Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Canada (1990), Lanna Foundation in Los Angeles (1990), Museum of Contemporary Art in Boston (1991), and Museum of Modern Art in New York (2000). The painting October 18th, 1977 is a masterpiece created in the 20th century and an accurate patch which can be used to analyze, study and recall that period of history.

Zhu Wei

Sunday, August 16th, 2009











以《1977年10月18日》这组作品命名的格哈德·里希特个展先后于德国克勒菲尔德Haus Esters美术馆(1989)、伦敦ICA当代艺术中心(1989)、美国圣路易斯美术馆(1990)、纽约格雷画廊(1990)、加拿大蒙特利尔美术馆(1990)、洛杉矶兰纳基金会(1990)、波士顿当代艺术博物馆(1991)、纽约MoMA(2000)展出。《1977年10月18日》是二十世纪绘画史上的经典,是人们分析、研究、回忆那段历史的一个准确的补丁。