Boat Trip, 1965

The motif is not an invention: Richter took it from a magazine. The photo was used to advertise Bavaria as a holiday destination. Is the choice of motifs random? Yes, because Richter never deliberately looks for a subject or theme. And no, because he only decides in favour of an image if it moves him personally.

For the motif’s realization as a painting, Richter undertakes various changes in order to achieve something incisive. Despite the fact that – or perhaps because – the contents are so condensed, the painting opens up to a wealth of associations and corresponding reactions. Of fundamental importance in this process is the manner in which Richter blurs the depiction, makes it indistinct, while at the same time calling attention to the medium of painting. In the case of “Boat Trip”, he took even a further step towards alienation. He coloured the black-and-white original photo slightly, thus turning the background into a gloomy, almost threatening setting. Little remains of the pleasant holiday mood; everything has become brittle and inscrutable.

© Gerhard Richter

Oil on canvas
150 × 190 cm
Inv. No. DB009
Deutsche Bank Collection at the Städel Museum

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