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Corinna Belz

2011 || Germany || 97 mins || Color || Documentary


The Match Factory (Cologne)


Toronto 2011


Gerhard Richter, one of the internationally most significant contemporary artists of our times, granted filmmaker Corinna Belz access to his studio in the spring and summer of 2009 while he was working on a series of large abstract paintings. GERHARD RICHTER PAINTING offers us rare insights into the artist’s work. In quiet, highly concentrated images, the film gives us a fly-on-the-wall perspective of a very personal, tension-filled process of artistic creation. We see Richter painting. We see him observe and dialogue with his paintings. We see him contemplate, wait, reject, rework and sometimes destroy only to begin anew.
GERHARD RICHTER PAINTING is the penetrating portrait of an artist at work – and a fascinating film about the art of seeing.


An unshowy but important art doc that will be a must-see for followers of contemporary painting, Corinna Belz's Gerhard Richter Painting opens a window on artworks whose creation proves even more time- and thought-intensive than expected. .. Set mostly in clean white studios whose size and details are no more romantic than corporate offices, the film spends months to capture a process more tumultuous than a one-day visit would suggest... We see bits of the artist's public and business life, like gallery openings and planning sessions with museum curators... the most rewarding footage here is of Richter by himself, filling empty canvas with bold schemes of primary colors before carefully distressing them with massive squeegees and muddying the colors with fat brushes. These scenes of technique are delicious to experience, even for viewers who haven't stood before his finished works and puzzled over the methods of their creation.


Corinna Belz’s feat of managing to stay close to the artist over a period of three years, particularly through five months in 2009 while he was putting together the works he was about to exhibit later that year in New York, is something of a record that is bound to draw the attention of the art world everywhere to the film... the film’s main and quite unique achievement, is entering Richter’s studio, to watch the man at work, for the process which leads to the creation is, in his case, as fascinating as the finished work itself and Belz’s camera allows to discover that other essential aspect of Richter’s genius... it’s a stunning experience to see them radically transforming before one’s eyes with one swish of that famous squeegee. Both director and painter are of course conscious that the presence of a strange person and a camera affects what is essentially a very secret, intimate and personal act of creation.


A gorgeously rendered work of art… An art film in the literal sense, German helmer Corinna Belz's intelligently assembled observational docu "Gerhard Richter Painting" offers fascinating insight into the working process of the famed contemporary artist as he prepares a series of abstract canvases. Shooting over three years, Belz eschews voiceover narration, supplementing her perceptive lensing of Richter's studios with new and old footage of the media-shy painter discussing his career with art historians, curators and the press; conversations with his assistants; and a mesmerizing survey of his complete oeuvre… Belz focuses on his process of applying paint to canvas, observing keenly but without question or comment unless he speaks to her first… the viewer becomes a silent observer as the artist paints, contemplates and sometimes destroys what he has done previously.

— Alissa Simon, VARIETY