Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Squeegee Paintings

Gerhard Richter currently rules unchallenged as the most expensive living artist in the world. And the most expensive of all his many styles are these large abstract squeegee paintings. A 2011 documentary film by Corinna Belz (Gerhard Richter Painting) depicts the heavy labor routinely undertaken by this 80-year-old in order to produce his squeegee abstracts, which now regularly reach auction prices above $20 million. As a young man Richter fled from East Germany to settle in West Germany just before the building of the Wall. Fifty years later (and the Wall gone) he is the darling of world-triumphant capitalism. That sounds so odious that it is hard to believe he might also be a great artist. Who talks about great artists anyway? Isn't that a fatally dated concept? I think it is still valid to say there are great artists alive, but talking in those terms has ceased to be fashionable.