Gerhard Richter's paintings of terrorists: The artist confronts history




Cope, Gail

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This thesis addresses these questions: Why did Gerhard Richter choose to paint terrorism, a complex, political, and polarizing theme? How does he convey such a subject, deal with the controversy generated, get the paintings exhibited, and find a permanent home for them? Acclaimed artist Gerhard Richter painted fifteen scenes of the violent Baader-Meinhof Gang that terrorized West Germany from 1968 to 1977. He named his amorphous views of the terrorists and their deaths simply, October 18, 1977, the date the gang leaders died in their prison cells. Research included visits to the German gallery that first exhibited the paintings, the MOMA in New York City, which owns them, and the Tate Modern in London. The author had access to original material in museum archives. Richter was drawn to the theme in part from his experiences growing up in Nazi Germany and may have been seeking validation as a painter of history.



Communication and the arts, Tate Modern, MOMA, Baader-Meinhof Gang