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Seascape (Seestück)

Gerhard Richter1998

Guggenheim Bilbao

Guggenheim Bilbao
Bilbao, Spain

Gerhard Richter has stated, “I am suspicious regarding the image of reality which our senses convey to us and which is incomplete and limited,” and his insistence on the illusionistic nature of painting has led to a painterly practice that underscores the mediated experience of reality by incorporating imagery based on found and familiar photographs. In Seascape, Richter combined various tropes of painting and photography to create a kind of representational problem: how and when does the eye sense the difference between a painted surface and the photographically recorded? In this seemingly conventional, large-scale work, the pigment is thinly applied, resulting in a surface that emulates the flatness of a photograph. Based on a snapshot he had taken in Tenerife, the work presents the viewer with a limitless expanse of ocean punctuated only by waves, beneath a subtly modulated sky. Richter's Seascape recalls the moody, atmospheric paintings of nineteenth-century German Romantic artist Caspar David Friedrich.

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