Guildenstern (Rhombus II)
Gerhard Richter, German, born 1932
Throughout his career Richter, one of the world’s most celebrated living painters, has contested painting with photography in order to better understand both mediums, staging an open-ended dialogue between mechanical reproduction and artistic skill, observed subjects and painterly abstraction. For Guildenstern (Rhombus II) he mixed various paints with water and thinner, photographed the results, and then cropped a detail—photography’s unique prerogative—to create this primordial mix of bubbling liquid colors. Guildenstern, a Shakespearean character who is reportedly dead by the end of Hamlet, is a hapless dupe in a battle between opposing forces. Richter seems delighted by the questions of whether this Guildenstern is a painting or a photograph, a friend or a foe to either, and, finally, alive or dead.