description of Lesende (Reader) by Gerhard Richter

This is a cozy, interior scene. A light-haired Caucasian woman is the focus of the painting. She is shown from the shoulders up. Golden light glints off of her hair and spills across the back of her neck. The image feels sentimental and intimate. She is wearing a scoop-necked, chocolate brown shirt that leaves her neck exposed. She wears casual, everyday jewelry – a gold necklace and modest hoop earrings. Her blonde hair is pulled back into a short ponytail and clipped in place with a black bow. Wisps of hair have slipped out of her clip and hang by her left ear. Her thumb holds the magazine in place as she reads. On the left side of the canvas in the background, a door to another room is visible in the shadows. The walls are painted a deep burgundy. The scene feels both momentary and timeless. To make a painting like this, Richter starts with a photograph he’s either found or taken himself. He re-creates the image exactly in oil paint, taking his color palette directly from the photograph. While the paint is still wet, he uses a soft brush to lightly smear the image. The blurring in this picture is most evident at the top of the woman’s head, where the strands of her blonde hair meld together, and in the magazine, where we can’t make out what’s written on the page. The blur gives the overall scene a hazy, soft focus, and communicates a quiet serenity. Keep listening to hear more about the painting.

Gerhard Richter, Lesende (Reader), 1994
Gerhard Richter, Lesende (Reader), 1994; oil on linen, 28 1/2 in. x 40 1/8 in. (72.39 cm x 101.92 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Purchase through the gifts of Mimi and Peter Haas and Helen and Charles Schwab, and the Accessions Committee Fund: Barbara and Gerson Bakar, Collectors Forum, Evelyn D. Haas, Elaine McKeon, Byron R. Meyer, Modern Art Council, Christine and Michael Murray, Nancy and Steven Oliver, Leanne B. Roberts, Madeleine H. Russell, Danielle and Brooks Walker, Jr., Phyllis C. Wattis, and Pat and Bill Wilson; © Gerhard Richter
Gerhard Richter, Lesende (Reader), 1994

Artwork Info

Artwork title
Lesende (Reader)
Artist name
Gerhard Richter
Date created
1994
Classification
painting
Medium
oil on linen
Dimensions
28 1/2 in. x 40 1/8 in. (72.39 cm x 101.92 cm)
Date acquired
1997
Credit
Collection SFMOMA
Purchase through the gifts of Mimi and Peter Haas and Helen and Charles Schwab, and the Accessions Committee Fund: Barbara and Gerson Bakar, Collectors Forum, Evelyn D. Haas, Elaine McKeon, Byron R. Meyer, Modern Art Council, Christine and Michael Murray, Nancy and Steven Oliver, Leanne B. Roberts, Madeleine H. Russell, Danielle and Brooks Walker, Jr., Phyllis C. Wattis, and Pat and Bill Wilson
Copyright
© Gerhard Richter
Permanent URL
https://www.sfmoma.org/artwork/97.36
Artwork status
On view on floor 6 as part of Pop, Minimal, and Figurative Art

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