Christiane Richter


Christiane Richter’s large-format color photographs reproduce no recognizable objects; they could be called “painted photographs.” She began her career as a painter. but when she was in a creative crisis she turned to photography, which offered her new expressive possibilities. Hers are not traditional photographs; they are joined areas of color that don’t necessarily have a photographic negative. The tones dictate the length of exposure; dark areas have a shorter exposure than light ones.

In Helpline, 1989, for example, a yellow stripe is followed by a dark-blue one that moves into a lighter stripe, ending finally with a dark-red one. Several works consist of only two colors, which either blend into each other or are strictly differentiated. Transitions from one color to the other can sometimes flow, creating subtle nuances. These images fill the space they occupy with an unusual beauty, and this is Richter’s subject. Challenged by the documentary character of her medium, the artist looks for new creative possibilities for photography.

Richter’s works are more than accumulations of colors. These are pictures of romantic beauty. Not sentimental, nor simply pleasing, they are images that exude an aura one could once have called sublime, just as Caspar David Friedrich’s work does. Indeed, Friedrich is a conscious reference point for Richter in a work where she quotes his famous painting of the solitary poet at the shore. Strikingly, this is the only work in the show in which the viewer can recognize something representational.

Noemi Smolik

Translated from the German by Charles V. Miller.