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The cult of personality around Gerhard Richter’s paintings is nearly as fervent as the cult of economics. In 2011, The Economist wrote, “The market for Richter paintings is deep and widespread… many periods of Mr. Richter’s painting enjoy strong global demand.” Later, Citigroup Senior Art Advisor Jonathan Binstock published a study in which he declared that Richter “has recently emerged powerfully as the next great market force among the tradition of 20th-century painters including Pablo Picasso, William de Kooning, and Andy Warhol.” Then there’s Manhattan’s Postermasters Gallery’s “Richteriana” exhibit—closing this week—that “attempts to examine the current canonization” of the German giant through works by six artists that use him as a springboard. All of this is a good deal more interesting than Gerhard Richter Painting, Corinna Belz’s follow-up to her 2007 film Gerhard Richter’s Window. Painting is literally an hour and a half of Gerhard Richter painting: We see him meticulously apply layers of paint to a canvas; the camera pans out; repeat. The only diversions are brief conversations between Richter and the cogs in his machine, including gallerist Marian Goodman, art critics, and collaborators. Nonetheless, Belz’s documentary is a refreshingly placid alternative to the chatter surrounding Richter’s role in money and art.
The film opens today at E Street Cinema.