Gerhard Richter: Biography

Gerhard Richter (b. 1932) was born in Dresden, Germany. He studied art at the Dresden Hochschule für Bildende Künste from 1951 to 1956, with mural painting as his concentration. In 1959, he visited documenta II, held in Kassel, Germany, an experience that inspired him to alter his artistic trajectory. After his escape from East Germany in 1961, he completed a second course of study at the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf. There, he united with his fellow students Sigmar Polke, Konrad Lueg, and Manfred Kuttner to collectively form the short-lived “Capitalist Realism” group.

From 1964 onward, Richter had many solo exhibitions in renowned commercial galleries in Europe, among them the Galerie Schmela in Düsseldorf (1964); Galerie Friedrich & Dahlem, Munich (1964, 1966); City-Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich (1966); Galleria La Tartaruga, Rome (1966); Wide White Space, Antwerp (1967); Galerie Heiner Friedrich, Munich (1967); Galerie Rudolf Zwirner, Cologne (1968); and Galleria del Naviglio, Milan (1969).

Richter’s first solo exhibition in a public institution was held at the Gegenverkehr, Zentrum für aktuelle Kunst, in Aachen, Germany, in 1969. In 1972 Gerhard Richter was selected as the only artist to represent Germany in its National Pavilion at the Venice Biennial. His work has been presented in numerous solo shows and retrospective exhibitions at important international institutions, including Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf (1971, 1986); Kunsthalle Bremen, Germany (1975); Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (1977, 2012); Städtische Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf (1986); Neue Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin (1986, 2012); Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC (1988, 2003); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1989, 2002); Tate, London (1991, 2011); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (1993); The Art Institute of Chicago (2002); The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2002); Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane (2017); The Met Breuer, New York (2020); and The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (2022). Gerhard Richter has exhibited at documenta, in Kassel, Germany, more times than any other artist (1972, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2007, and 2017).

Richter has been honored with a number of significant awards, among them the Kunstpreis Junger Westen, Recklinghausen, Germany (1967); Arnold-Bode-Preis, Kassel, Germany (1981); Oskar-Kokoschka-Preis, Vienna (1985); Goslarer Kaiserring, Goslar, Germany (1988); Golden Lion at the 47th Venice Biennale (1997); Praemium Imperiale Award, Tokyo (1997); Wexner Prize, Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio (1998); Foreign Honorary Membership of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York (1998); Staatspreis des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf (2000); and the Kunst- und Kulturpreis der deutschen Katholiken, Bonn, Germany (2004). In 2007 Gerhard Richter received an honorary citizenship of Cologne, Germany, and in the same year he designed a spectacular glass window for the Cologne Cathedral.

David Zwirner organized an exhibition of Richter’s prints and multiples in New York in 1994, in the gallery’s first twelve months of programming. Richter’s work was also the subject of exhibitions at the gallery in 2000 (Gerhard Richter: Early Paintings) and in 2004 (Gerhard Richter: Landscapes).

Work by Gerhard Richter is held in important public and private collections worldwide. He lives and works in Cologne.

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