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Sunday, June 24, 2012


If I were an artist, or a painter, I would probably be more enthused about this film, whose title tells it all.   It is a documentary showing Gerhard Richter  painting. He is now using a very unique technique. (He experimented with other techniques in his long career.) He admits to being uncomfortable being "on camera," explaining that painting is a very personal, subjective process, and being filmed makes him feel self conscious and ill at ease, and somewhat inhibits his process.  Nevertheless, he has allowed Corinna Belz, the writer, director of this exceptionally well done (it was not like watching paint dry for 97 minutes), and actually fascinating documentary to photograph him creating (and then sometimes seemingly destroying) the paintings that have earned him great renown (and huge prices!).   I, not being one of the knowledgeable art crowd,  had never heard of him, but apparently among the cognoscenti, he is considered one of the most important and best. He slathers paint from buckets on to to large boards, which he then uses (with both hands - and a lot of strength)  to smear on huge canvasses.  Then he repeats, using a new color. This happens several times.  Then he may leave the canvas alone for a day or two.  And then do some more slathering. (He has a couple of assistants who mix the paint for him ahead of time.)  He may finally use a normal brush, but not often, for some finishing touches. What you see is mostly subtle layers upon layers of muted (usually) colors, without discernible patterns. Richter seems very likable, and obviously deeply in love with his creative process.  Born in Germany, 1932, he studied there.  Left East Germany (never saw his parents again because of the war) and now lives in Cologne.  Not much in this documentary about his personal life, though I did some research and found he's been married a couple of times and has some children.  This was like "Art Education 101" for me, and as such, quite successful.  

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