The quintessence of Gerhard Richter’s painterly vocabulary is condensed in “Manöver” (2022): slanted and fine, straight lines on pink paper suggest the start of a grid pattern, alluding to the painter’s preference for anti-subjective and mechanical processes. However, within this lattice structure, the central motif is that of black formations, akin to ink blots, surrounded by zones of fog. As so often in Richter’s work, there seems to be a combination of impulse, chance, and system, linked together by the form of these exploding splotches. In terms of content, there are definite associations with war, underscored by the work’s title, “Manöver” (maneuver). Accordingly, the viewer is prompted to project onto the work a sky that has been colored reddish pink by bombs and rockets, marked with billowing smoke. “Manöver” thus takes its place in Richter’s long line of political pieces, which begins with the Baader-Meinhof cycle “Oktober 18, 1977” (1988) and continues through to “September” (2005), his image of the burning World Trade Center. “Manöver” also seems to reverberate with overtones of Russia’s current war of aggression against Ukraine. Each of the editions is unique. Beginning from the black dot on the upper left of the picture, Richter uses blue felt pen to draw a long “zigzag” line across the picture. This line likewise creates an encounter between impulse and system: while it has been made according to a preordained principle, its realization is nonetheless extremely dynamic. Here, too, is a gesture containing echoes of Richter’s entire oeuvre.
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