Published  12/03/2002

MOMA rave

MOMA rave

The New York Museum of Modern Art survey of Gerhard Richter’s 40 years of painting is a graceful accolade to a much-loved if controversial European painter. Opened on St Valentine’s Day, and continuing until late May, Richter is a critical rave-up, because literally, he cannot be readily typecast. Moving easily across from total abstraction to dry figurative mode, he deploys whatever apparatus best suits his political message of the moment. Above all, however, it is in the act of painting throughout his four decades that Richter has recharged the longstanding credibility of the medium. Curator Robert Storr is to be praised for his courage in organising this alien importation to the city of continuous critique. Greenberg would be uneasy, Rosenberg would blench. But, Richter’s philosophy has been forged through his personal life journey through Nazism as a child, Communism as a teenager, then jumping across the curtain in 1961 to break out in West Germany in the company of Sigmar Polke. The show travels interstate to Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington.

So Tate Modern, what about it? Or even RA? Such retrospectives do no less than chart the history of our times, and through Richter we sense the personal cost that motivates a true master for the 20th century, translated into a confident pluralism of means before its time. Studio International will carry a full review of the exhibition on 28 March.

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