Miriam Stautmeister, a regular presence on FB, went to the Museum Folkwang in Essen, Germany recently to see a retrospective of Gerhard Richter. The Museum Folkwang is a major collection of 19th- and 20th-century art. The museum was established in 1922 by merging the Essener Kunstmuseum, which was founded in 1906, and the private Folkwang Museum of the collector and patron Karl Ernst Ossthaus in Hagen founded in 1902.
“As of the 1950s, the Museum was able to build on its reputation, acquired before 1937, as a centre of modern and contemporary art. Works by American artists Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, Ad Reinhardt, Franz Kline, Morris Louis and Frank Stella as well as pieces by Yves Klein, Lucio Fontana and the founders of the Zero group (Günter Uecker, Otto Piene, and Heinz Mack) represent the fresh start in the visual arts. Finally, works by artists such as Gerhard Richter, Georg Baselitz, Markus Lüpertz, A.R. Penck, Peter Halley, Roni Horn and Thomas Schütte as well as room installations by Martin Kippenberger, Paul Thek, Lothar Baumgarten, Atelier van Lieshout and Simon Starling mark the transition to the 21st century.” *
I have heard vaguely of this abstract painter, but am not as familiar as I will become. And it is all because of Miriam’s post that my interest was peaked. Briefly, Richter, according to Wiki is “a German visual artist (who) has produced abstract as well as photorealistic paintings, and also photographs and glass pieces.” That’s all well and good, but it’s also like saying that The Beatles were a rock band from Liverpool that created popular music.
The latter description is far from what the artist contributed to the world of abstract art. A deeper biography would take volumes of books to give him the exposure that he deserves.
The best way to describe Richter’s art is that he himself rebuffed any notion to be pigeon-holed into any one art form. “Throughout his career, however, Richter repeatedly took a different course than what others expected or desired, received critical opinion as suspect, and refused to let postmodernists label him as any sort of specified artist. “My works are not just rhetorical, except in the sense that all art is rhetorical,” Richter said to Kimmelman. ‘I believe in beauty.’” (www.encyclopedia.com*)
Ergo my fascination I have with his art since being introduced to his work via Meriam’s mention of him on her excursion to the museum. When anyone goes beyond what is expected or works consciously at trying to be who they are and not what others think they ought to be, the more respect I have for them, the artist, the sculptor, the author, or – the blender.
Just looking at Richter’s works on this small scale one can see that he is not at all interested in what we, as the viewer, think of his work. He is only interested in conveying what he thinks about his vision. And I have to give him full marks for his tenacity not to be labeled. And to this day – he is not. Though the conventionalists continue to try and shoehorn his work into some movement. But just as the two ugly sisters of Cinderella couldn’t fit into the glass slipper, his body of work will never fit neatly into any one style.
And just as Gerhard stayed above the conventional fray, so do many of the innovative cigar blenders of today. I won’t name them, but they know who they are. They know that tastes are changing and tobacco has become a scientific minefield leading the smoker to hybrid plants with oftimes exploding flavor profiles that just somehow work together producing intoxicating tastes that would never have been thought of back in the day.
And how does anyone know about this? From people such as Miriam. A cigar lover who also adores art (she is a painter herself), writes poetry and is an explorer – and says so.
Become an inquisitive and passionate madcap adventurer. Become the next Mallory and Irvin of Mt. Everest fame – to the death if need be.