21 Apr 2020

Gerhard Richter trained as a painter at the Dresden Academy of Art in East Germany. In 1961, shortly before the Berlin Wall was erected, he moved to Düsseldorf and enrolled at the art academy there. His artistic environment was suddenly no longer defined by the dogmas of socialist realism but by Fluxus artists’ political happenings and actions, in particular by the extended concept of art that was being promulgated by Joseph Beuys. Against this backdrop, Richter began to take an interest in the question of how painting, with its age-old history, and despite all critique, might be continued in the present: how does one paint after the "death" of painting?

Already in the early 1960s Richter had used found image material, especially photographs and reproductions from newspapers and magazines, as models for his paintings. Motorboot is also based on a black-and-white photograph. This photograph was not a private snapshot, however, but a staged image from an advertisement for the Kodak Instamatic camera. Image blur is an important element deployed by Richter to bring out the abstract qualities of the realistic motif.

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