On the occasion of the exhibition on Gerhard Richter’s long-term loan to the Neue Nationalgalerie titled “100 Works for Berlin,” we had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Dietmar Elger, the director of the Gerhard Richter Archive. In his insightful explanations regarding our questions about the Gerhard Richter Art Foundation, ranging from its establishment and mission to its future tasks, he conveys the significance of the foundation in the contemporary art landscape and enables a better understanding of its role and impact.
1. Where is the foundation based?
Dietmar Elger (DE): The Gerhard Richter Art Foundation is based in Cologne.
2. Who was the driving force behind it?
DE: Gerhard Richter had already been thinking about the future of his works for several years. What finally decided the matter was the four-part cycle of “Birkenau” paintings. Richter absolutely did not want to sell these works, and in establishing the foundation he also wanted to stop galleries from repeatedly approaching him with offers. The foundation makes it clear that these paintings, as well as all other works in its collection, are not available to the art market.
3. How is the foundation structured? Who manages it, for example?
DE: The foundation does not have a large apparatus. It is managed by Sabine Moritz-Richter as its chairman. However, Mr Richter is involved in all questions and decisions of the foundation.
4. Do you work for the foundation?
5. What is the foundation’s mission statement?
DE: I do not know the exact wording of the foundation’s mission. However, it is formulated very openly, so that the foundation does not limit itself in its work.
6. Are there any plans to merge the Gerhard Richter Archive and the Gerhard Richter Art Foundation?
DE: No, the Gerhard Richter Archive is firmly integrated into the Dresden State Art Collections as one of fifteen institutions. For the Foundation, relinquishing its freedom in this way would make no sense.
7. What is the Foundation’s relationship to the Gerhard Richter Archive in Dresden?
DE: The Foundation and the Archive work closely together, just as we work closely with the artist’s studio.
8. Are works being acquired deliberately for the Foundation on the art market in order to cover all artistic periods?
DE: No, that has not happened – at least not yet. And there are no plans to make such new additions to the foundation’s holdings.
9. Who selected the works for the Foundation?
DE: Gerhard Richter made the selection from the works that belonged to him personally, although the initial selection changed over the years before the foundation was established.
10. Is anything known about the future place in the yet-to-be-built museum in Berlin? Will all the works always be on display or is there an exhibition concept?
DE: I don’t know the architectural plans for the new museum, but Richter will occupy one of the four so-called anchor rooms, which are to be reserved for four central figures. Not all of the works will be on permanent display. Some of them will also be loaned frequently for international exhibitions. It is also the intention of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation place Richter’s paintings in a dialogue with works by other artists.
11. Is the loan agreement with the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, its museums in Berlin and the other museums for a fixed period?
DE: The loan agreement with Berlin and the other places where works from the Foundation are exhibited, i.e. in Dresden, London or Tilburg, is fixed-term, as usual, but would be extended in consultation with the Foundation’s Board of Directors.
12. Will the number of works for the foundation still increase or is the number now set?
DE: Gerhard Richter continues to be very active, even if he no longer produces paintings. He will certainly hand over a collection of drawings, which he has been working on intensively for several years, to the foundation at some point.