Wolke (Cloud) is a signed lithograph print by world-famous and highly respected German artist, Gerhard Richter. Part of the artist’s Atlas series, it was issued in a limited edition of 300 in 1969. Like its close cousins, Wolken (Clouds) (1969) and Wolke (Cloud) (1971), it offers a photorealist depiction of a layer of ghost-like cloud hanging high above the horizon line, and is a standout example of Richter’s ‘photo paintings.’
Commenting on his artistic practice, Richter once said: ‘I blur things so that they do not look artistic or craftsmanlike but technological, smooth and perfect.’ When confronted with Wolke (Cloud), it is difficult to disagree with Richter’s assessment of his own work. An example of works Richter has dubbed his ‘photo paintings’, Wolke (Cloud) is a sublime image imbued with a sense of its creator’s mastery of painting and composition. Evoking the kind of scene one might see from a plane window, the photographic origins of the piece are clear: wispy, blurred sections of cloud hover over others, more clearly defined. To the right of the image, Richter captures over-exposure with an astounding level of detail, reinforcing that, after all, this is an artwork made after a travel photograph he took during the 1960s.
Part of the Atlas series, this work indexes Richters combined fascination for both abstraction and realism. Instantly drawn into its many folds, the viewer recognises this piece as part of a genealogy that begins whilst Richter is studying at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, and leads to his squeegee and lacquer-based, abstract works, which feature in the Cage Grid and Flow series.