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Unsigned Print Edition of 500
H 79cm x W 60cm
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Joe Syer, Head of Urban & Contemporary Art
Unsigned by its creator, German artist Gerhard Richter, this 2000 lithograph print was issued in an edition of 500. Part of the artist’s Photographs series, it is made after a photograph depicting the bombed-out city of Cologne, Germany - Richter’s adoptive home - in 1945.
The third work to reference the original print, Bridge 14 Feb 45, Bridge 14 Feb 45 III is strikingly abstract for a photographic print. Offering an aerial view of the south of Cologne in the aftermath of an allied bombing raid, the work distances us from the surface topography of the ruined city, replacing it with an eerie stand-in of lunar quality. Abstracted traces of arterial roads, the collapsed Köln-Rodenkirchen bridge, and scorched houses offer little indication of the human cost of the bombing, distanced from the anthropocentric landscape as they are. Known largely for photorealist ‘blur’ paintings, such as Elisabeth II (1966) and Kerze (1988), and his large-scale abstract paintings, such as Abstraktes Foto (1989) and Abstraktes Bild (P1) (1990), in this photograph Richter references his keen interest in German Vergangenheitsbewältigung - or ‘working through the past’.
This print’s simple, descriptive title references the date on which Dresden - Richter’s birthplace - and Cologne - his adoptive home - were both subject to fierce allied bombardment during the last days of World War Two. As such, the artwork serves as a visual representation of Richter’s own personal attachments to East and West Germany and the countries’ shared history, as well as the fact that German memory transcends its contemporary national boundaries, and now-defunct interior border. However, the conceptual resonance of the image is located not only in its dual affinities with Cologne and Dreden, West and East, but also in the fact that it depicts the area of Köln-Hahnwald - the current location of Richter’s home and studio.