Overpainted Photographs

Selections from 562 Photos, 1986 – 2008

January 1989

oil on photographs, 10x15, 15x10 cm

In 1989 Richter returned to his collection of photographs using a new technique: he now paints with oil directly on the photographic surface. Consequently the images are even smaller than the watercolors (10x15 or 12x12 cm), requiring a handling of the brush reminiscent of classical miniatures. He delights in drawing out a few drops of paint until the photo goes up in flames, the faces of a couple on a stroll are obliterated, or an apple on a table acquires a Buddhist-yellow background.

Richter repeatedly returned to this process in the following 20 years. It appears that he enjoyed the freedom and deliberate spontaneity the small format allows. No other Richter paintings are as humorous as these tiny vignettes.

I present three sets of consecutive, overpainted photos: In the first, he almost entirely covered the photo - landscapes, city views - with abstract oil scribbles. The second, entitled “Firenze” - views of the Arno and Ponte Vecchio - are overlaid with more and more whimsical, ad lib brush strokes, and a third - landscapes - are decorated with fanciful, abstract forms reminiscent of Max Ernst's and Salvadore Dali's surrealist objects.

November-December 1999

oil on photographs, 12x12 cm


February-March 2000

oil on photographs 12x12 cm

June 2008

oil on photographs 10x15 cm

Except as otherwise noted, all images were downloaded from Richter's official website
All copyrights rest with Gerhard Richter