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Kerze - Signed Print by Gerhard Richter 1988 - MyArtBroker

Signed Print

Gerhard Richter


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Lithograph, 1988
Signed Print Edition of 250
H 90cm x W 94cm

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Meaning & Analysis

A contemporary take on vanitas painting - an artist genre comprising still life artworks which, through symbolism, remind viewers of both their mortality and the inutility of worldly possessions - Kerze is one of Richter’s most well-known works. It depicts a single lit candle, flickering its light onto a nearby wall.  Speaking to Richter’s mastery of traditional, representational artistic techniques, the work’s reference to canonical art history seeks to complicate the artist’s own position within the field of Post-war and Contemporary Art, as well as its conceptual and stylistic development.

Painted around the same time as Richter’s first Abstract paintings, such as Abstraktes Foto (1989) and Abstraktes Bild (P1) (1990), Kerze testifies to Richter’s incessant return to the ‘old’ as a means of bringing about the ‘new’. The piece is the product of Richter’s so-called ‘Atlas’ - an enormous compilation of image-based materials that Richter has used throughout his career as the photographic basis for his representational works. The work also references Richter’s upbringing in Dresden, from which he escaped in 1961, and the allied bombardment of the same city on the 13th of February the 13th 1945. Commenting on his choice of the candle motif, Richter explained: ‘candles had always been an important symbol for the GDR, as a silent protest against the regime... it was a strange feeling to see that a small picture of candles was turning into something completely different, something that I had never intended. Because, as I was painting it, it neither had this unequivocal meaning nor was it intended to be anything like a street picture. It sort of ran away from me and became something over which I no longer had control...When I painted the candles I wasn't thinking of February the 13th but I did experience feelings to do with contemplation, remembering, silence and death.'

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