Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Gerhard Richter in 'Panorama" at the Tate Modern

Betty 1997 
Having read about Gerhard Richter for my photographic studies, I was very keen to see his work in the flesh.

Currently showing at the Tate Modern, this exhibition spans over 50 years of his work.

 It doesn't disappoint. The retrospective of the artist now in his eighties, is as varied as it is expansive. This is an artist who questions, tests and experiments with the role of art in the presence of other media. He breaks down 'the painting' to a series of brushstrokes in a single tone of grey, only to move onto multicoloured, mathematically derived abstracts containing over a thousand different colours. He paints in the manner of a photograph, or a newspaper advertisement, and then moves on to the most beautiful portraits inspired by works of the great masters. The variety and scale of works is astonishing. 

As photography is not allowed in the exhibition I don't have much to show for my visit; I don't really know why it isn't, as a photograph never compares with the real thing. Nothing prepared me for the beauty of his portrait "Betty" shown above. In the flesh it is richer, smaller, and more beautiful than any photograph.

I saw several people taking photos on their mobile phones, particularly in the large mirror that is one of the exhibits. Watching the public interacting with art is always entertaining, and no-one does it better that Thomas Struth. I had to make do with some postcards as a reminder of my visit.

Taking photos in galleries is something that adds to the visit. I was pleased to be given permission to take some photos at the Hamilton Gallery of Tom McCullin's work in  his exhibition 'Platinum' that ends today. Their view was that all the images are readily available in books already.

Don McCullin platinum print

I found this small show incredibly moving; the quality of the 16x20 inch platinum prints was quite breathtaking; they have a glow and depth, together with clarity and detail that only a medium or large format image can have. They had been printed especially for him by a third party, and were available in editions of 10 for around £10,000 each.

the presentation of this print in a dark alcove adds to the subtlety
They convinced me that I should be striving for quality in my prints; something that I have been seriously considering with my recent exploits in large format photography; I'll tell you how I got on in my next missive; suffice it to say, it is a challenge!

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