Gerhard Richter was born in Dresden in 1932. He studied at the Dresden Art Academy in East Germany from 1951-56. A few months before the creation of the Berlin Wall, Richter and his first wife Ema fled to Düsseldorf in West Germany. From 1961-64, Richter studied at the Staatliche Kunstakademie, Düsseldorf under Karl Otto Gotz.
Richter met and worked with fellow artists Georg Baselitz, Sigmar Polke and Konrad Fischer-Lueg during the 1960s, forming a group with Polke and Fisher-Lueg called the Capitalist Realists. Richter’s first one-man exhibition was held at Mobelhaus Berges, Düsseldorf in 1963, showing his photo-based painting style for the first time.
In 1967 Richter won the Junger Westen Prize and began to paint series of Colour Charts, Grey Paintings and Portraits. In 1972 he represented Germany at the Venice Biennale and exhibited at Documenta in Kassel, where he also exhibited in 1977, 1982 and 1987. At Documenta in 1982 he was awarded the Arnold Bode Prize and in 1985 in Vienna the Oskar Kokoschka Prize.
The artist first exhibited in the USA in 1973 at the Reinhard Onnasch Gallery. In 1988 the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago held a retrospective of his work. This was followed by a retrospective of Richter’s paintings in 2001 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, curated by Robert Storr.
Richter designed a new stained glass window for the Cologne Cathedral in 2007 (the original was destroyed during WWII) and was made an honorary citizen of Cologne. He has lived and worked there since the early 1980s.