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Seestück II - Signed Print by Gerhard Richter 1970 - MyArtBroker

Seestück II
Signed Print

Gerhard Richter


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Lithograph, 1970
Signed Print Edition of 100
H 60cm x W 45cm

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Meaning & Analysis

Much like Seestück I (1969), Seestück II (1970) is concerned with a recurring interest of modern and contemporary art: the natural landscape. Unlike its painterly cousin, however, this photographic work references the beginnings of Richter’s programmatic artistic process, rather than its end result. A constituent part of the artist’s so-called ‘Atlas’ - an immense collection of found imagery, newspaper cuttings, and personal photographs, this print speaks to the imagistic depth of the German painter’s practice, both on a practical and conceptual level. Depicting the red, stormy sky off the coast of the Canary Islands, as well as the deep blue sea swell brewing beneath its horizon line, Seestück II is a harbinger of Richter’s decision, in 1975, to abandon manual print making as a preparation for his paintings, and start painting purely from photographs. As such, this work foreshadows the eventual impact of such well-known photorealist works as Betty (1991) and Ella (2007), itself based on the photograph Ella (2014).

Richter’s ‘Atlas’ is indebted to the work of art historians Aby Warburg and Erwin Panofsky. Born in the 19th century, Warburg was the chief innovator of ‘iconology’ - the study of imagery and its symbolism and interpretation. Panofsky, a German-born art historian who later fled Nazism and settled in the United States, was responsible for major developments in iconology after Warburg’s death in 1929. At the heart of the discipline was Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas: a collection of over 1000 images pinned to 40 individual panels and taken from magazines, books, and newspapers. Thematically arranged, the Atlas was designed to chart historical change in the symbolism of art. Richter, who began to compile his own Atlas in the 1960s, uses his Atlas in much the same way, placing particular emphasis on the memorial legacy of Nazism and the Holocaust.

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