For close to sixty years, a central role in Gerhard Richter's life's work, which he began (anew) in West Germany in 1961, has been played by the continuous erosion and blurring of the border between reality and illusion, by the expansion of boundaries, and by questions related to the representability of different "realities" and the capturing - and instantaneous dissipation - of the given moment.
As Richter has, throughout his life, had direct experience of several different political, social, economic and cultural systems, his relationship with reality (or realities) can best be apprehended in terms of doubts, scepticism, transience, evanescence and fragility. The essence and power of his art emanate from his propensity to analyse and to question everything, and from his ensuing compulsion to keep moving forward, inexorably.
His uncategorisable, "style-less" painterly language, which entirely excludes the personal while remaining endlessly multi-layered, ranges from the figural to the abstract, from blurred, hazy images to sharp, glossy surfaces, from grey photo-paintings to vivid, polychromatic colour charts, from portraits to landscapes, from canvas to stained glass, and from the manual to the digital.
With the so-called photo-paintings he made in the 1960s, he was the first to reflect on the unique relationship between photography and painting, and he resolved the prevailing conflict between the two. He makes masterful and conscious use of all the tools of modern painting and of the art of bygone ages, primarily from the painting of Titian, Vermeer, and Caspar David Friedrich.
He experiments with the themes and forms explored by his forebears, while incessantly creating ever newer painterly universes that differ from each other to boundless extremes, doing so by eradicating himself from everything that has gone before, and by depriving the themes, the precedents and his own present time from all subjectivity. Gerhard Richter's multifaceted work does not derive from a single self-contained and targeted artistic concept.
It is rather an intricate fabric, often built up from consistent intentions, but sometimes composed from mutually contradictory ideas about the preconditions of painting and art. His constant search for new possibilities, his transgression of boundaries, and his commitment to avoiding predictability and obligatory doctrines tie Gerhard Richter to the most important artists of the twentieth century.