783 sheets (and counting) – Richter’s Atlas

I’ve finally had a chance to look through some of Richter’s Atlas (published by d.a.p.)- and with so much imagery – so many photos, sketches, models, I am amazed at the sheer volume – 783 sheets so far. It is a wonderful book – a glimpse into the images about / around / behind /before / after the painted works…

One of my favorites is at the Des Moines Art Center…

But, I wonder what is the atlas really collecting and what’s the purpose of publishing it as a body of work ? Memories and reasons for paintings?

Some of the photographs are so well composed, I have to wonder if the desired image was already formed in the mind and the photograph is a way of testing it out – before it is transformed into a painting.

I find it interesting where the impulse to finally paint an image comes from – the creative tipping point. Photographs are like rough drafts. A collection of image models. Or, as the introduction suggests, a way of filtering all the possible images to locate the “right image”.

Of interest are the photographic experiments – double exposures and self portraits – sometimes labeled “for prints”.

I don’t know that there are any Richter photographs that are themselves catalogued as finished work. It would be interesting if there were – would they look like Richter’s paintings or be something else?

Where a painting is a “one of a kind” object – existing as its own image – Photography is always of something – and can never seem to escape that … Both involve the hand of the artist – decisions, exclusions, technique, product are all employed to produce – to create “the image”.

“One only makes a photo to make a photo, and if you’re lucky, you will discover it later for a painting. – Gerhard Richter”

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