Daniel Richter

Daniel Richter

A German Painter

“The studio is the sponge and the outside world is the water … The sponge is dipped into reality and then squeezed out.” Daniel Richter, one of the most important painters of his generation, talks about the transformative power of painting.

“The studio is like a teenage room; you close the door from the inside and your mother isn’t allowed to come in. You don’t necessarily do anything forbidden or taboo, but it’s something you don’t want others to see,” says Richter jokingly of the work that goes on in the artist’s engine room. Multi-layered and crammed with historic and cultural references, his large-scale paintings come to life in the studio. “It’s like the brain,” he explains. “It inherits history and has different layers; language, music, memories, moods. It’s a place where you can analyse very precisely but you can also just drift.”

Richter came of age on the Hamburg punk scene where he produced record covers, band posters and political flyers, but he didn’t start painting until he was in his late twenties. “I wanted to bring as much information into a painting as possible, which was, on a very simple level, a way of coping with reality,” he says of his early work made in post-World War II Germany and marked by the 1990’s: the end of the Cold War, changing global relationships and the birth of the internet. Richter’s more recent work has transformed into more recognizable narratives, a kind of contemporary history painting: “When I changed to narration it was also an urge that had to do, on a very simple level, with reality … I felt the desire to paint things that related to what I saw in the world.” Not as a means of lecturing, explains Richter of his very political work, but as a way of working through the insecurity, fear and paranoia of being in the world. The key, he says, is to avoid distance and to make painting human: “The moment you take something that has a human effect on you, something you can’t describe, the whole thing transforms from a topic to something that is about yourself.”

Daniel Richter (b. 1962) is a German painter whose strongly coloured, often slightly surreal paintings convey current events and art historical issues with an irreverent and energetic approach. A professor at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna, Austria, his work is widely exhibited, among others at Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, The Netherlands, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Germany and Victoria Miro Gallery in London. Richter’s paintings can be found in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Centre Pompidou, Paris and elsewhere.

Daniel Richter was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner in his studio in Berlin, Germany, and at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark, in July 2016, in connection with the exhibition Lonely Old Slogans.

Camera: Klaus Elmer & Rasmus Quistgaard
Produced by Marc-Christoph Wagner
Edited by: Klaus Elmer
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2016

Supported by Nordea-fonden

  • Wang Shu

    Architecture is a Job for God

    The Chinese architect Wang Shu’s buildings – a crossover between traditional Chinese culture and large-scale modern architecture – have earned him prestigious awards. “Democracy means a really diverse society,” says the architect in this inspiring interview.

  • 8 Artists

    On Painting

    ”A painting must always move beyond its subject,” says British painter Michael Simpson, who sees the practice of painting as ”giving form to an idea.” Hear how he, David Hockney and 6 other painters work with the classical art form.

  • Mette Winckelmann

    Woman to Woman

    ”You must evaluate whether the system you’re part of could be effectuated differently.” Meet artist Mette Winckelmann, who believes that abstract painting communicates deeper than language, and explore her visual take on gender politics.

  • Chigozie Obioma

    Everything We Do is Preordained

    Award-winning Nigerian author Chigozie Obioma calls his debut novel ‘The Fishermen’ “an Igbo version of a tragedy.” Meet the author and hear about his modern day metaphor of “the paradox that is Nigeria.”

  • Ed Ruscha

    Words Have No Size

    The road to being an artist was “like blind leading the blind” says Ed Ruscha, who grew to be one of the most recognised American artists of the 20th century. Hear the story of West Coast Jazz, his break with abstract art and L.A. in the 1960s.

  • Margrethe Odgaard

    Colour Diary of New York

    Becoming more aware of your surroundings can “open a new dimension inside as well as outside yourself.” Meet award-winning Danish designer Margrethe Odgaard who has trained herself to register the world through colours.

  • Adam Caruso

    Novelty is nonsense

    "The European city is one of the great human inventions!” Adam Caruso advocates building with a deep sense of history and tradition. Meet the architect behind the award-winning Tate Britain conversion and numerous Gagosian galleries.

  • Thomas Hirschhorn

    A World of Collage

    Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn juxtaposes pixelated images from the media. His works are not about technology, says the artist: “I try to give form to what I can’t accept: that someone else can decide for me what I should do, see or think.”

  • Jonathan Safran Foer

    On Donald Trump

    Jonathan Safran Foer, star of American literature, offers interesting views on America’s new president and the consequences Trump will have on American culture. "The place for literature may be even more important than before," he says.

  • Dorte Mandrup

    Where Place Meets Sculpture

    Rising from the landscape in a place rich with materiality and history sits architect Dorte Mandrup’s new Wadden Sea Centre. Meet the renowned architect and see a building were “everything comes together.”

  • 5 Artists

    on Making Sculptures

    “All sculpture that I’m interested in knows that death is the inevitable conclusion.” Award-winning artist Antony Gormley sees art as the expression and generation of hope. Hear how he and five other artists work with sculpture.

  • Karl Ove Knausgård

    Literature Should be Ruthless

    Karl Ove Knausgård has enchanted the literary world with ‘My Struggle’, a novel of more than 3000 pages about his own life. Watch the star author discuss literature, writing and how his autobiographical style is closely connected to fiction.