August 5, 2021

Kunstmuseum Winterthur presents 100 self-portraits by Gerhard Richter

Executed in pencil in 1993, they show the German artist under his left profile. Otherwise, the museum and its annex have four other good exhibits.

The exhibition poster.

Credits: Gerhard Richter, Kunstmuseum, Winterthour 2020.

The Kunstmuseum Winterthur has enjoyed a privileged relationship for several decades with Gerhard Richter, born in 1932. The German painter was closely linked with its director Dieter Schwarz, now retired. What do you want? We are in an aging world. The links have obviously been maintained, while the museum is now managed by Konrad Bitterli. Since mid-May, the institution presents one hundred self-portraits of the artist. An exhibition which was to open with spring, on March 21.

Above all, do not imagine works from all eras! Oddly entirely figurative, of course. But we know to what extent this artist today “dear” can be versatile, from hard abstraction to realistic representation. The Kunstmuseum can moreover offer in the hanging of its (very rich) collections a perfectly classic Richter landscape in appearance. The self-portraits shown in a large room on the ground floor actually all date from 1993. That year in fact appeared at Insel Verlag in Frankfurt a super luxury book including the writings of the master, who had also consented as a bonus. some interviews. Each of the 101 copies included an original drawing. A “Selbstbildniss” drawn in pencil, precisely.

A remainder

These are of course not the ones that the public can discover. He sees only three, those of the books displayed in a window. Richter had indeed seen broad. He had made 96 more drawings in order to be able to make a choice. This remainder has never been dispersed. The whole is still in the hands of a single private collector today. It is this lot that the public is watching. The painter intervened in the negotiations. Curated by Konrad Bitterli, the exhibition is produced with the Gerhard Richter Archives in Dresden. How beautiful it is to already have archives when you are still alive and productive, even if it lacks a little modesty!

Since we are still in contemporary art, with these sketches somewhat reminiscent (more than half a century behind) of the smears of Pierre Bonnard, Richter used a protocol. All the drawings, initially intended to be enclosed in a book, of course remain the same size. There is only one medium, the pencil. Richter still shows himself under his left profile. To its left is an empty surface that can be likened to a wall. The only variant is that the man wears or does not wear glasses. That said, there are works that are worked and those that are less. They then appear almost ghostly. It is also possible to think that some self-portraits are more successful than others… It must be said that Richter got to work a bit quickly. Looking closely, I saw that thirteen drawings dated from September 5 alone and eighteen from October 10 …

From Spitzweg to Van Ostade

The exhibition is one of five that the Kunstmuseum itself offers today, along with its annex the Kunst Museum, in other words the former Oskar Reinhart Foundation. While the latter offers the German romantic painter Carl Spitzweg, miniatures from the first half of the 19th century from the Kern Foundation and paintings and engravings by Adriaen van Ostade, three things that I will tell you about one of these days, the Kunstmuseum offers Walead Beshty. The name might ring a bell. Normal. This is a co-production with the Geneva Mamco. The impression is quite different in a new frame (1). Finally, there are the proposals of the Fotomuseum, including the remarkable Evelyn Hofer whom I have just reported to you. Plus female war photographers. Unlike Geneva, Winterthur is on the move. It is suddenly one of those that really matter in Switzerland. If our city counts of course also, it is unfortunately for butter!

L’exposition Beshty, version Kunstmuseum. Photo Christopher Burke, Kunstmuseum Winterhur 2020.

(1) The Beshty exhibition designed by Lynn Kost begins in the art galleries of the twentieth century. Logic. The American used Fedex a lot to get the transport company to accidentally break his glass works. So there is a wink there.


“Gerhard Richter, 100 Selbstbildnisse”, Kunstmuseum, 52, Museumstrasse, Winterthur, until 4 October. Phone. 052 267 61 62, site Open Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum has adapted to the present day. He offers his designer protective masks. Note that this is not mandatory in the rooms. However, the thing has its price: 28 francs.