'In my dreams I would love an empty white room with just this in and a comfortable floor cushion for odd moments of reflection '
Candle, 1983, by Gerhard Richter (b.1932), 37½in by 35½in, private collection. Copyright: Gerhard Richter
Cath Kidston says:
Richter is my favourite living artist. I particularly like his candle series and have chosen this single candle with the very still flame. I find the painting incredibly beautiful and peaceful. It is contemplative in an almost religious sense and, as someone who always seems to be busy, the stillness appeals. In my dreams I would love an empty white room with just this in and a comfortable floor cushion for odd moments of reflection .
Cath Kidston founded her eponymous brand in 1993. She stepped down as a director in 2016 and now runs her own design studio and is a trustee of the Fine Cell Work charity
John McEwen comments on Candle:
It is indicative of the profit-driven frenzy driving contemporary art that Gerhard Richter, reasonably described as the world’s most famous living artist, is not listed in the 1993 Penguin Dictionary of Art and Artists. In 2015, one of his pictures sold at auction for $46.3 million. He has declared his distaste for feverish market exploitation.
Mr Richter’s father was a teacher, his mother a talented pianist. His aunt, a schizophrenic, was forcibly sterilised by the Nazis and died in a euthanasia camp. He watched the glow of Dresden’s wartime firestorm and, later, as an art student, spent part of his week clearing the city’s rubble. He first saw the stars of international contemporary art on a trip from Communist East Germany to the Documenta art festival at Kassel, West Germany. Two years later, when the ‘iron curtain’ became a physical reality, he fled to the West with his wife, never seeing his parents again.
Throughout his career, Mr Richter has painted pictures, thus opposing progressive contemporary-art trends. In 1964, he wrote: ‘In every respect, my work has more to do with traditional art than with anything else.’ He has a number of signature styles, commonly exhibiting his most characteristic effect, a slight blurring of the image: ‘I blur things so they do not look artistic or craftsman-like but technological, smooth and perfect.’
They can nonetheless be charged with emotion, as was demonstrated when one of these Candle paintings, deliberate mementi mori, was reproduced on a monumental scale and placed overlooking the River Elbe to mark the 50th anniversary of Dresden’s bombing. Candle was also used as the cover for Sonic Youth’s seminal album Daydream Nation, which was released in 1988.
‘Gerhard Richter’ is at John Hansard Gallery, University of Southampton, until August 18
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