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Daniel Richter

Lonely Old Slogans

8.9.2016 - 8.1.2017

The German artist Daniel Richter (b. 1962) is regarded as one of the most important artists of a generation which also includes Scottish Peter Doig (b. 1959) and Danish Tal R (b. 1967). With this mid-career retrospective exhibition, Louisiana presented Richter’s development from the earliest efforts until today.

Daniel Richter arrived on the art scene in the 1990s with a highly expressive abstract formal idiom that evoked associations with his earliest artistic career as a designer of for instance album covers for a number of punk rock bands in Germany of the 1980s. Since the years around the turn of the century, however, Richter has exclusively painted figurative pictures, often described – also by himself – as a kind of new history painting. But they lack any reproduction of the specific historical events; the pictures rather capture a particular contemporary spirit, marked by the death of the great political utopias. 

Richter’s paintings are both thematically and formally related to German Expressionism and painters such as Max Beckmann (1884-1950) and George Grosz (1893-1959), who in the years before World War II painted acerbic, humorous and profoundly socially critical, allegorical pictures. Daniel Richter takes a similar approach to painting, which according to him is always ideologically positioned in relation to the surrounding world.

The exhibition was curated by Louisiana’s director Poul Erik Tøjner together with Daniel Richter. Afterwards, it was shown in Vienna and London.


Daniel Richter is deeply rooted in the political and cultural life of our time. His paintings are highly communicative and full of scenes and subjects we as spectators recognize and are easily drawn to. Sometimes the artist takes his subjects from the flow of images that surrounds us permanently as citizens of a media society; sometimes they are freely invented, but even so address things that happen or could have happened. Almost like a kind of political theatre – this is art on high alert.


Louisiana Channel visited Daniel Richter in his Berlin studio. In this inteview he explains about his urge to change to narration and desire "to paint things that related to what I saw 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.” 


It is not a coincidence that this comprehensive presentation of Daniel Richter followed the Louisiana showing in 2015 of Peter Doig – and that the museum in 2017 added yet another painter to the sequence, namely Danish Tal R. Peter Doig is born in 1959, Daniel Richter in 1962 and Tal R in 1967 – in other words, give or take a few years, they are all from the same generation and in fact also know one another.

All three of them are figurative painters; they tell stories from and about our time, in different ways – and all have an emancipated attitude to the medium of painting. It may well be difficult to work out why they actually became painters, but painters they are, and paint they do – apparently undaunted by the claims about the death of painting that typified their generation during their youth.


Paintings by the two artist colleauges - and friends - Daniel Richter og Tal R were displayed side by side when Louisiana had its new acquisition show Pink Caviar in 2012. They were asked by Louisiana Channel to interpret one anothers work – and in this conversation talk about painting in general, generosity, fellowship and sources of inspiration.