Wolf Prize Laureate in Arts 1994/5
The Prize Committee for Arts (Painting) has unanimously decided that the Prize for 1994/5 be awarded to:
“for his vast artistic activity, which has influenced the contemporary art scene of the past three decades”.
Despite History and in conjunction with it, Richter is reinventing Painting for today, transcending its very laws in order to dare to impose Beauty.
Painting. Situated between denial and challenge, forcing analysis to transcend the supposed contradictions (representation/abstraction), and the ever repeated paradoxes (neutrality/expression), focusing on the straightforward visual evidence of an utterly resolute dialectic, in Richter´s case painting imposes its unanswerable presence. Its ‘impact’ and the ‘truth” of the images claimed by the artist are grounded in the
magnitude of the stakes and a particularly clear-sighted vision.
The force of this work renders obsolete the constant references to the ‘end of Painting”, its inability to represent. Calling on history and art history, painting, here sovereign, imposes itself, with the requisite ‘distance’ to appreciate properly the mastery of an artist who is hyperaware of where he is and what he is doing, of his subject and his object.
The character of Gerhard Richter´s work is continuously ambivalent: at the same time demonstrative and retentive, open and closed, ebullient and restrained, where chance and necessity, rigour and effect, dullness and chromatic exuberance, coldness and emotion alternate in the permanent reinvention of a solution.
We must dare to talk of Beauty gained over indifference, of Painting as an act of faith. By doing so, Gerhard Richter introduces the problem of representation and the representable, of history and politics, in the specific context of post-Auschwitz Germany, of Germany beyond the Wall.
Reflection, in both senses of the term – mirror and analysis – is one of the key words of this work, where distance itself acts as the safest of all guarantees of an emotional language for today.