The exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler is the largest ever in Switzerland to be devoted to Gerhard Richter (born in Dresden in 1932, now based in Cologne), arguably the most important artist of our time. It centers for the first time on the artist’s series, cycles, and interior spaces. A counterpoint to these is formed by a number of single works, many of which have achieved iconic status. Some hundred pictures are on show — portraits, still-lifes, landscapes, abstract images — along with two glass objects and sixty-four overpainted photographs. The selection encompasses the major periods in Richter’s career since 1966, including recent works not yet seen in public.
In a career spanning sixty years Richter has created an oeuvre of striking thematic and stylistic variety. He has used photographs as the basis of figurative paintings. His abstract works range from pictures featuring color to monochrome fields and digitally generated compositions. "If the abstract pictures show my reality, then the landscapes and still-lifes show my yearning," he wrote in 1981. The artist has also addressed recent history. The exhibition therefore includes the legendary fifteen-part cycle from the Museum of Modern Art, New York, revolving around the Baader-Meinhof gang and the events of October 18, 1977.
In the 1950s Richter studied mural painting at the Art Academy in Dresden. Since then many sketches and statements by him have testified to the crucial role played by architectural contexts in his work: "That is such a dream of mine — that the pictures will become an environment or become architecture.” Richter’s interest in the interaction between single pictures, groups of works, and the surrounding spaces is explored vividly in the exhibition, which has been put together by curator Hans Ulrich Obrist in close cooperation with the artist.