‘Dear Painter, Paint for Me’: Watching Gerhard Richter Work

Gerhard Richter, "15. Nov.06, 898-12," 2006. (Photo: Marian Goodman Gallery)

Well, The Observer certainly knows how we’re spending our weekend: watching the two-minute trailer for the new documentary Gerhard Richter Painting over and over again. It’s embedded below. (Thank you, Greg Allen, for bringing it to our attention.)

Gerhard Richter Painting was directed by Corinna Belz, who previously made a 2007 documentary about Mr. Richter’s creation of stained glass windows for the Cologne Cathedral, which appeared at the Toronto Film Festival this week.

As its title suggests, the film shows Mr. Richter at work in his studio making a number of his trademark abstract paintings, and as Mr. Allen points out, the painter uses some absolutely enormous squeegees to make those mysterious works.

Even watching Mr. Richter work, it’s tricky to understand fully how he makes the magic happen. (We’ll need to see the film.) But pause the trailer at the 48-second mark, as the artist applies what appears to be the first layer of paint: just a few patches of color, like a more spare version of a late Hans Hoffman or warmer Clyfford Still.

But then Mr. Richter brings out the squeegee. The horror music comes on. He starts cutting across the surface of the canvas.

Here is the trailer:


‘Dear Painter, Paint for Me’: Watching Gerhard Richter Work