Gerhard Richter’s Slippery Mystique

Gerhard Richter, “Betty” (1977), oil on wood, 11 13/16 × 15 3/4 inches (all images courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

For an artist in his late 80s, Gerhard Richter has managed to remain surprisingly provocative. Critics have posited that his punk attitude exposes political contradictions that few can face. This is true to an extent. Many fail to acknowledge, however, that Richter is an archetype of accelerationism. Digital copies of his most popular paintings, particularly his abstractions, are reproduced for his museum and gallery exhibitions so frequently that the originals elicit newfound symbolic and financial value. This technique enshrouds the artist in a sort of mystery, granting him long-standing industry preeminence.

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