Gerhard Richter | An Artist Without Limits

By Carrie Oeding


Gerhard Richter oil painting | Reader

Richter's painting, "Reader" (1994; oil on canvas, 28⅓x40), features his wife, in his signature blur. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), San Francisco

Gerhard Richter, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday, is an artist known for shattering artistic conventions and challenging prevailing perceptions. He’s built a career around the defiance of expectations—perhaps even his own. The artist’s willingness to work in a variety of media signals his interest in piecing apart the strictures that traditionally govern them.

Fortunately for us, watercolor hasn’t escaped his gaze. Richter’s radiant abstract watercolor paintings offer countless opportunities for exploration, fascinating viewers with a magnetic tumble of rich, textured layers.

His constant artistic transformation, from blurred photorealistic paintings (pictured) to monochrome and color chart paintings to expressive abstract watercolors and work in stained glass, created new boundaries and challenged the limits of genre. Richter bravely strived to change the definition of what art should do, painting beyond the end of painting. For that, he is today regarded as one of the greatest living painters.

Read more about Gerhard Richter’s abstract watercolors in the April 2011 issue of Watercolor Artist, and click here to read about the exhibitions taking place in Germany in celebration of the artist.


Carrie Oeding is a poet and writer living in Huntington, West Virginia.




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