Gerhard Richter’s edition for our anniversary issue is a retrospection in its own right: the photograph is a counterpart to the “Youth Portrait” with which the chronology of his RAF cycle (1988) opens. It is a print, mounted on Alu-Dibond, from the original negative of the portrait of Ulrike Meinhof that Richter had copied from an issue of “Stern” (in the Hamburg press archives) and which served as the referent for his painting. The photographer Inge-Maria Peters (who cosigns this edition) took the portrait of the 32-year-old mother of two on October 10, 1966, to accompany Meinhof’s regular column for “Konkret”; four years later, Meinhof would join the terrorist underground. The pin-sharp photograph assumes the style of an actor’s headshot: the journalist with an expression of unwavering determination, poised against the black background, ready to confront the viewer. Richter’s choice to revisit this photograph in an artist’s edition may be read as a comment on his earlier work, which has become almost inseparable from his “Youth Portrait” painting in the collective memory: the photograph prompts a comparative gaze that looks behind the painting’s blurring and emulation of Old Master iconography, qualities the artist discerned in the original picture but heightened by the means of his art. Almost 30 years after Richter’s painting (and nearly four decades after Meinhof’s death), does the photograph vouchsafe a less warped vision of history, a way out of the impossibility of its representation? Far from being a secondary visual, the photograph is revealed, here, to be a tableau in its own right: once the painting’s model, now returning in its wake, it emerges as its equal.
Pigment print on 308 g/m² Photo Rag on Alu-Dibond, overall size: 51 × 50 cm, motif size: 33 × 33 cm, edition: 120 + 15 A.P., numbered and signed on the back, € 5800.– plus art transport.