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Daniel Richter

Greif zur Feder, Gymnasiastin (2020)

The relationship between art and life has been central to the evolution of modern art. In the German Democratic Republic, a cultural program, the “Bitterfelder Weg,” was established to intimately connect art and life, to dismantle the alienation between artists and citizens and thus support the realization of a socialist utopia. The program’s motto, “Greif zur Feder, Kumpel! Die sozialistische Nationalliteratur braucht dich!” (Grab the pen, mate! The socialist national literature needs you!), encouraged workers to contribute to the GDR’s cultural character. Daniel Richter, known for colorful figurative paintings that often appropriate historical and art-historical subjects, took inspiration from this motto for his edition on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of “Texte zur Kunst.” On one side of this diptych lithograph, Richter paraphrases the motto in the form of a political poster, replacing “mate” (Kumpel) with “schoolgirl” (Gymnasiastin). On the other side, the artist appropriates CasparDavid Friedrich’s motif from “Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer” – another quintessential symbol in German history: a windswept figure looks out into the abyss. It is a creative call to arms and a commitment to history.