Who knew Gerhard Richter did erotica?
He copied images from porn mags but it's as if a gauzy veil has drifted across the image, clouding any promiscuity
The great German painter Gerhard Richter has set out to do many things in his career, but titillation is a long way down the list. At various points Richter has attempt to reorder abstract art, to come to terms with the deluge of Western image making, and remake the solemn task of history painting. So why have we included him in our new book, The Art of the Erotic? Because, as the title explains, Richter has used erotic imagery to explore other concerns.
"The artwork is one of Richter’s photo paintings," explains the book, in the text accompanying Richter's 1966 work Two Couples (above), "a series he began in the early 1960s when he decided to use photographs as his subject matter. His intention was to reveal and corrupt the technology of mass production, so he set about reproducing photographs from the mass media and then blurring them, flattening out the picture so that everything became equal – equally important and equally unimportant.
"What is unusual about Two Couples is that the artist has based it on an erotic photograph from a pornographic magazine, rather than the more usual reportage or advertising image. Richter softened the picture by feathering the paint while it was still wet. The result is like a blurry, out-of-focus snapshot, as if a gauzy veil has drifted across the image and clouded the couples' promiscuity. Its carefree eroticism in its natural setting is sensual and spirited, and their bodies appear to melt into one another. The woman in the foreground, leaning against her lover, echoes the sensuality of a classical reclining nude." To read more about the sex life of fine art, order a copy of The Art of the Erotic here.