A study of Richter’s output as an artist, and the role of anarchism within it. “Anarchism is at its best when it goes beyond its analysis of the state and other social institutions to uncover an authoritarian consciousness which is not only shaped by authoritarian institutions, but also expresses itself through those exact institutions. Such an analysis sees no other answer than the transformation of this state to its opposite – a system of liberation social institutions which are the self expression of a creative, autonomous and co-operative person.

Seen in this light, Richter as an artist can be seen to at into the anarchist tradition – his works criticize the epoch in which they are set.

But Anarchism is a doctrine which has at its roots, direct Socio-Political thoughts and actions, Richter, rather uses the medium of painting to seek this emancipation, and painting is just not radical enough to do this. It is afterall an established bourgeois pastime.

Richter is an anarchist, but he produces an anarchy which is artificial given the limitations of painting. This ‘artificially’ plays great importance in his ‘18 October 77’ exhibition about the fate of the ‘Baader Meinhoff group’, or Red Army Fraction.


In 1963, Richter, along with a friend, Conrad Lueg, staged a performance in the spirit of Fluxus. It took place in a furniture store. The whole furniture store was exhibited unaltered. A programmed viewing of the demonstration was on show, and also in a separate space an average living room was exhibited as if it were being lived in. The two painters dressed in black suits, white shirts, ties were also on exhibition. Some pieces of furniture were placed on pedestals, like sculptures, to make people realise they were witnessing an exhibition, ‘A Demonstration for Capitalist Realism’, as it was called. Richter recalls,

“The title Capitalist Realism hit just right. There was Socialist Realism, which was very well known to me. This was just the opposite, and I could use it without taking it too seriously, because ‘Capitalist Realism’ was another form of provocation. There is no such thing as Capitalist Realism. This term somehow attacked both sides: it made ‘Socialist Realism’ appear ridiculous, and did the same to the possibility of ‘Capitalist Realism’“

With this performance Richter was making public his shortcomings with both ideologies. Although politically Richter is a confirmed ‘Capitalist’ because this is the society in which he lives, artistically he is an ‘Anarchist’ because art is totally different.