German, born 1932
St. Louis Museum of Art:
This monumental diptych … evokes a somber and mysterious mood. When seen together they create an enveloping environment not unlike the experience of a nocturnal landscape glimpsed through the rain-spattered window of a moving car. Gerhard Richter created the sense of movement in these works by dragging large squeegee spatulas across the canvases, simultaneously applying new paint while scraping off previous layers. Although they are entirely abstract, the paintings have a blurred quality and predominantly black and white palette that paradoxically suggest photographic images. The titles of the three diptychs provide some historical grounding and clues to their interpretation. In November of 1989, forty years of a divided Germany collapsed as the East German government succumbed to mass demonstrations and opened the Berlin Wall. Richter, who was born in East Germany and had fled to the west a few months before the wall was built in 1961, had a complex response to these events. While a celebratory mood prevailed in the streets and the media at the time, it appears as if Richter condensed the emotional and political uncertainty of these cataclysmic changes and the questions arising from them into these massive paintings in which past, present, and future are submerged in layers of paint.