Whilst recently in Washington DC on a private tour, COMMANDOpera received an invitation to tea at the residence of the American artist Marcel Richter. Perhaps this invitation would rank as the most extraordinary of all the great houses visited while in the area. Such an estate as the one Mr. Richter occupies while in America each half of the year (the other half spent in Europe), are of the greatest rarity. This is not a mere establishment one might read about in the likes of Architectural Digest, for extreme old wealth resides at this home. In room after room, every single inch of vertical and horizontal space is covered with the most priceless artifacts, old masters, engravings, carpets, and furnishings (COMMANDOpera noted four piano’s or like instruments from the 18th-19th century alone, which Mr. Richter plays for amusement and down time). COMMANDOpera was granted permission (within guidelines) to photograph some of the public rooms for global readers delectation.
Art run deep in the veins of this artist, whose paternal grandfather is none other than Mr. Karlchen Richter (co founder of Dortmunder General-Anzeiger), who was patron to the photographer August Sander, and the painter/sculptor Benno Elkan (COMMANDOpera must point out the period painting in the photograph above where Mr. Richter is by the piano, is of Karlchen Richter and his wife). Mr. Richter recently removed from Tunisia where he spent an extended period painting, and advised to COMMANDOpera that he found a great spirituality from this recent period. The artist has long felt this deep personal bonding with his art which is reflected quite plaintively for those who view his works. Mr. Richter is rather looking forward to 2012 when he is scheduled to spend 3-4 months in Istanbul in something of an artists residency. COMMANDOpera noted an interesting liveliness from the Tunisian works, and suspects the Turkish influence will further elaborate these textures. For those who move knowledgeably within circles of Fine Arts, Marcel Richter has begun to be whispered in the same breath as Rothko and Riopelle. Why? Because his style is breathtakingly new in form to the point of revolutionary. His abstracts canvasses in oil and acrylic are like no other witnessed in previous periods. COMMANDOpera offers two canvasses below with the advisory, the photographs simply do not reflect the sensational 3 dimensional aspect so unique to a Richter.
COMMANDOpera enquired after Mr. Richter as to what brought him the express himself in this realm and his early influences.
‘ I can’t give an intellectual explanation of why I started to paint…it started with a desire that grew stronger and stronger, until it grew so powerful that I couldn’t help myself but paint…and of course, very quickly, I discovered great joy in it, a kind of high, that has turned this into a real (positive) addiction. When I paint, I feel completely in the moment…I feel complete mental focus…there isn’t anything I’d rather be doing. I had always loved art, and drew intensively in childhood. So I had a good foundation in the history of art – and of course, I love it all, passionately, from the cave art at the Lascou to the very latest developments in art of the present day – excluding the bad stuff, of course. As far as specific influences… I can’t deny that Gerhard Richter (no relation, although both Richters descend from the same region, however the surname is common) was a definite influence: The idea of pulling paint over canvas and the freedom which implied, the expressive force and possibilities… At the same time, that was just a starting point – I’m driven by the desire to develop my own personal style, the inimitable signature….as you saw here, I look to explore the possibilities of different media and materials….oil, acrylic, water color, ink, searching for ways to maximize the expressive power of each..’
COMMANDOpera noted the artists’ rising global recognition is derived from his work in abstractionism (as opposed to impressionism whom one associates with Degas, Monet, Renoir, etc for those who are unaware) and enquired rather bluntly on ones necessaries. After a pause, raised eyebrow and just the slightest sigh of indulgence..
‘It is certainly very helpful to have a foundation in realistic, traditional painting before venturing into abstraction, but, to be honest, not absolutely necessary. Frankly, I think it’s probably even more important to have looked at a lot of art, of all types, in an in-depth level, as one embarks on the adventure of painting. Matisse said that one can detect whether a person can paint/has artistic ability from that person’s very first drawing, I agree with that. I believe that, on the one hand, painting requires extraordinarily hard work; a painter has to paint every day. On the other hand, I believe that an artist you obviously can’t replace talent. You either have that certain something, that original voice, or you don’t.’
Given Mr. Richters employment of different media within his work, COMMANDOpera asked him to expand on the topic, which then segued into Abstractionism itself.
‘Each medium has it’s own possibilities as far as different techniques go. There are things I can do with acrylic that are impossible with oil, and vice versa. I am looking to maximize the expressive potential, the energetic force of each medium. I was going to say, there are other artists I feel a strong kinship with: Pollock, Lee Krasner, Rothko, the German painter Heinz Mack, to name some of them. By the way: The German literary critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki wrote that writers know as much about literature as birds know about ornithology; the same probably applies to some degree to artists in relation to art theory: The forces driving are creativity are to a large degree beyond explanation…’
‘Abstract painting is commonly divided into two types: On the one hand, abstraction that is grounded in reality, that takes a subject from the material world and simplifies it, distills it to its essence; and on the other, abstraction that is completely self-referential, abstraction that has no subject but its very self (Frank Stella says: “What you see is what you get”). My work straddles these two kinds of abstraction, but it is situated mostly between the two: I am motivated and excited by the idea that a painting can have a reference and meaning beyond itself, but without being clear what that meaning and reference actually is…even to me, the painter himself! In general, I believe all great paintings have a mystery to them. Another thing I believe about painting: When I paint, I am trying to create a certain energy state on canvas. My painting is grounded in nature, in organic forms, but there are seldom direct references, rarely things that can be directly identified. I am trying to create a certain energy state on canvas. I believe a good painting has a kind of high energy level, something that goes beyond the analysis of composition, color, etc.‘
After two hours, it was time to depart from the precincts of Mr. Richter. Although global readers would be most curious to know where one could find the artists works, it would not be at a chic gallery opening. Although the artist has been offered a number of such interesting gallery propositions, Mr. Richter is not prepared to offer his oeuvre. At least not at this point. For those who are inclined, COMMANDOpera strongly advises anyone who collects globally to immediately head to the link at the top and connect with the artist directly.