Museum Folkwang
Essen, Germany
Until  July 30, 2017

Gerhard Richter is one of the world’s most important living artists. Opened on April 7 to run until July 30, 2017, the Museum Folkwang presents the first complete exhibition of his editioned work, in one of the largest solo exhibitions that has ever been staged. Richter’s new edition Schädel (Skull), made specially for this exhibition, will receive its first public showing at the museum.

Gerhard Richter has routinely produced editions since 1965. As a result, the editioned works – prints, photographs, objects, paintings, artist’s books, and more – form an important group within the artist’s complex oeuvre. The exhibition now brings together all 173 of Richter’s editions for the first time and thus provides a unique overview of his more than five decades of extensive artistic work and his astonishing diversity of style.

Richter has repeatedly used the concept of editioning not just to interpret his pictorial themes and ideas anew but to extend their reach through wider dissemination. Even the earliest editions show that Richter employed the medium of printmaking to probe the same questions that were occupying him in painting, and, moreover, often did so in new and surprising ways: questions about the relationship between an original and copy, about the inherent qualities of painting and photography, and about the interpretative readability of his chosen subjects. Through his editions, Richter explores the possibilities of a variety of media and genres. In doing so, he also continually interrogates his own self-conception as an artist: ‘Sometimes I feel that I should not call myself a painter but a producer of images. I’m more interested in images than in painting.’ As Richter’s work as a painter has undergone repeated transformations, his editions have also reflected his stylistic range.

In October 1970, the Museum Folkwang hosted the first exhibition of Richter’s editioned work, which was also his first ever solo show in a museum context. The current exhibition – Gerhard Richter. The Editions. – contains twelve sections, each with a different thematic focus, which explore Richter’s themes, concepts, and artistic strategies. This approach gives a perspective on his entire work, in all its complexity, including his early prints, his landscapes and portraits, his many varieties of abstraction (colour fields, inpaintings, squeegee paintings, overpainted photographs), and the digitally produced Strips of the 2010s. A number of the museum’s galleries and spaces are given over to the large-scale tapestries Abdu, Iblan, Musa, and Yusuf (2009) and the graphic series Elbe and November (both from 2012).

The idea of collecting material for images and storing it for possible future use is one of Richter’s characteristic methods. In addition to family portraits and photographs from newspapers and magazines (for example, Flugzeug II (Airplane II), 1966), the artist repeatedly uses his own snapshots as the starting point for new artwork. Thus, when making the edition Ella in 2014, for instance, he returned to a photograph of his own daughter taken in 2006.

Richter has repeatedly addressed the theme of uniqueness within seriality. This goes all the way back to his first multiple, Hund (Dog) in 1965, where he individually smudged the ink, still wet from printing, on each of the eight impressions. In a similar way, Richter worked on each print of the edition Sils (2015) after they were produced, this time with a pencil. With his painted editions too, Richter has turned each version into a unique specimen. For example, each of the 115 works in the edition Green-Blue-Red (1992) is a unique artwork, created using different combinations of the same three colours.

The exhibition is being staged in close collaboration with the Olbricht Collection.

Supported by Merck Finck Privatbankiers AG.

To coincide with the exhibition Gerhard Richter: The Editions., the museum has produced a 64-page mini-catalogue. Published by Museum Folkwang, featuring texts by Tobias Burg, Peter Daners, Hans-Jürgen Lechtreck, Sonja Pizonka and Annika Schank. ISBN 978-3-95829-356-4 (priced € 12.80)

Gerhard Richter
Blau-Gelb-Rot a. d. Serie: Farbfelder.
6 Anordnungen von 1260 Farben
, 1974
Blue-Yellow-Red from: Colour Fields.
6 Arrangements of 1260 Colours

Offset print on card, 64,4 x 79,2 cm
Courtesy Olbricht Collection
© Gerhard Richter, 2017