Daniel Richter at the Essl Museum

Daniel Richter, “Halli Galli Polly,” 2004, oil on canvas, 32 x 102 3/4″
 Daniel Richter, “Still,” 2002, oil and ink on canvas, 280 x 380cm
Daniel Richter, “Horde,” 2007, oil on canvas, 110 x 177″

“I think I was doomed to be a painter but I suppressed it for a long time. When I turned 30, I was in a fox hole I couldn�t get out of till I decided to study art � and then I turned out to be a painter. I have no idea why I didn’t start earlier. Well, maybe part of the explanation was that I didn’t wanted to be a painter. Back then I looked down at artists, as they, in my view, weren�t able to exist in the real world, they live in their ivory towers, and I didn’t want to live there. But now I like living there, I feel very warm and cosy. Then when I started to make art back in the 90�s painting wasn’t in at all; the discussions at the universities had as point of departure the second wave of institutional criticism, gender mainstreaming, rereading Judith Butler and other related topics. I never understood that this theoretical stance was actually anti-painting; I just painted and thought that everybody was into painting, like everybody is into music.

“Eventually I found out that I was wrong, that only very few people actually painted, and I was confronted with the school of postmodern subtleties, that I found very limiting. Anyway, at first I tried to do stuff in an abstract way, to put as many elements into a painting as possible, to create some kind of overkill. It was an interesting time, but at the end of the century, there were a lot of propaganda about change and I thought: Maybe I should change too. So I did.”

–Daniel Richter

In ArtForum critic Sabine V. Vogel recommends Daniel Richter’s current show at the Essl Museum. “One of Germany�s most successful young painters, Daniel Richter made a name for himself in the 1990s with large abstract paintings. Since the turn of the millennium, he has become known for his large figurative works….One of the show�s most captivating pieces is “Horde,” 2007. It is a frontal view of a group of people painted in cold blue hues, with black contours and a burning red cleft between them. Here, Richter channels aggression itself and our awe of it into a deeply powerful image. These people are not made of flesh, but rather pure energy. Their spectral forms, so typical of Richter, are formally similar to images generated by heat-sensing, infrared, and surveillance cameras. Richter, however, achieves much more by translating these imaging techniques into painting: He produces iconic images of society that show an unstable reality, a meeting of contrasts and emotions….

“Among the new works are his first small-format pieces, which take a different direction�devoid of people, they are steeped in a new forlornness. Relevant to the current, ubiquitous celebrations of German reunification, these paintings recall closed national borders. Richter depicts surveillance towers and border situations that he then enriches with a palette-knife technique and dismal colors. It is rare for an exhibition of paintings to engage with such contemporary topics while also featuring such complex works and moving subject matter.”

Daniel Richter,” Essl Museum, Klosterneuburg, Vienna, Austria. Through January 10, 2010.

One Comment

  1. "I think I was doomed to be a painter but I suppressed it for a long time." …I didn't wanted to be a painter" in deed.

    this whole quote from Richter is great. I went to art school in the 90's and I know what he is talking about.

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