Studio International

Published 02/01/2004

Gerhard Richter's recent New York MOMA retrospective was profoundly moving, yet he remains an artist of whom British Gallery directors have fought shy for many years. Visiting the Whitechapel Art Gallery show (until 14 March 2004) entitled 'Atlas', the doyen of London critics, Waldemar Januszczak suffered a bout of depression, sensing an institutionalism wholly pervading the serried ranks of exhibits - reminding him of his own Eastern European early childhood in Poland. As Waldemar said 'you can take an artist out of East Germany but you cannot take East Germany out of an artist'. Interspersed with all that, the occasional, sublime paintings were each, 'a small oasis of pleasure' said Waldemar. We are bound to agree, resenting the sense of an overwhelmingly repetitive, personal archive that this show represents. Why does New York go wild about Richter, while London stands back? This exhibition does nothing to bring closer a similar retrospective, say at Tate Modern, to that in MOMA.