On the occasion of its opening, the Espace Louis Vuitton Beijing is pleased to announce the presentation of an unprecedented exhibition dedicated to German artist Gerhard Richter. This presentation has been produced in the framework of the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s “Hors-les-murs” program, showcasing previously unseen holdings of its collection at the Espaces Culturels Louis Vuitton in Tokyo, Munich, Venice and Beijing, thus carrying out the Fondation’s intent to mount international projects and make them accessible to a broader public. Since the early 1960s, Gerhard Richter has created a paradoxical body of work that sits somewhere between figurative and abstract art. Classically trained as a painter, throughout his oeuvre Richter has maintained a lifelong fascination with the power of the image and painting’s long, uneasy relationship with photography. His early works depict enlarged black-and-white photographs, often from newspapers or his family albums, painted using only a range of greys. Richter blurs the depicted subjects, deviating from traditional figurative painting, in order to distinguish painting from photography. He believes that whilst either medium may claim to reflect or express reality truthfully, either ultimately suggests only a partial, or incomplete view of a subject; offering a far less objective meaning than originally assumed.
Working alongside but never fully embracing the late 20th century art movements such as Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Minimalism, and Conceptualism, Richter has consistently absorbed many of their ideas whilst remaining sceptical of their grand artistic and philosophical ideologies. This is evidenced through the artist’s remarkably varied body of work, including photography-based portraits, landscape and still-life paintings, gestural and monochrome abstractions, and colour chart grid paintings, where themes of chance, realism and abstraction are prominent.
In 2008, the National Art Museum of China presented for the first time the work of Gerhard Richter with a series of paintings from 1963 to 2007. Today, the Espace Louis Vuitton Beijing invites the public to continue the discovery of this internationally recognized artist. Richter is an iconic artist of the Fondation Louis Vuitton Collection, which holds a number of his very significant works. A whole room was devoted to Richter’s work at the inauguration of the building in 2014. It was thus obvious to show a version never before exposed – Version VII – of Richter’s kaleidoscopic work, 4900 Colours (2007) in this new venue of Beijing. Composed of 196 panels, each consisting of 25 coloured squares that can be arranged in 11 core configurations, this work pursues the artist’s early investigation of colour field paintings which he began creating in 1966 by replicating, in large scale, industrial colour charts produced by paint manufacturers. It epitomizes Richter’s practice, and his constant quest to ultimately “desubjectivise” painting. In this regard, it seemed important to show a work emblematic of the artist’s oeuvre in painting, which is the privileged medium of Western tradition.
Also part of the Fondation’s collection, Strip (920-1), Strip (921-2) and Strip (921-5) (2011) are presented to further enhance the artist’s interest in the relationship between painting and photography, these works being in fact digital prints of augmented photographs taken of a previous squeegee painting created by the artist in 1990.
About the artist
Gerhard Richter was born in Dresden, Germany in 1932. He now lives and works in Cologne. Classically trained as a painter, his vast oeuvre consists of a paradoxical body of work that sits somewhere between figurative and abstract art. Richter has represented his country at the Venice Biennale in 1972 and was included in (d)OCUMENTA, Kassel, in 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992 and 1997. Solo exhibitions of Richter’s work have been organized by major museums such as the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco (1989), Tate Gallery in London (1991), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid (1994), Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin (1997), Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin (2002), Museum of Modern Art in New York (2002), Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. (2003), Kunst Museum in Bonn (2004), National Museum of China in Beijing (2008), and National Portrait Gallery in London (2009).
About the Fondation Louis Vuitton
The Fondation Louis Vuitton is an institution that serves the public interest dedicated exclusively to contemporary art and artists, as well as 20th century works to which their inspirations can be traced. The Fondation’s own collection and the exhibitions it organizes seek to engage a broad public. The building created by architect Frank Gehry constitutes the seminal artistic statement by the Fondation. This building is already recognized as an emblematic example of 21st century architecture. The Fondation Louis Vuitton has welcomed more than a million visitors per year from France and around the world since its opening in October 2014. Confirming this international recognition of the Fondation’s artistic commitment, the exhibition Icons of Modern Art, The Shchukin Collection (October 2016-March 2017) received a record-breaking 1.2 million visitors.
From its opening in Paris, the Fondation Louis Vuitton announced that it would engage in international initiatives, both at the Fondation and in partnership with public and private institutions, including other foundations and museums. The Fondation is also responsible for the artistic direction of a specific “Hors-les-murs” program within its cultural spaces in Munich, Venice, Beijing and Tokyo, which are exclusively devoted to exhibitions of works from its collection. The exhibitions they organize are open to the public free of charge, and their programs are promoted through specific cultural communication.