Gerhard Richter, born in Dresden, embarked on a classical education at the Dresden Art Academy in 1951. Prior to the erection of the Berlin Wall, he and his wife fled to Düsseldorf. There he studied at the Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf under Karl Otto Gotz. In 1983, he moved to Cologne, where he still lives and works.
During the early sixties, Richter together with Sigmar Polke and Konrad Fischer-Lueg formed the Capital Realists, who were satirical, often deriving subject matter from print media. Richter emerged from the group to become one of the most sought after contemporary artists in the world. His work is regularly sold at auction, sometimes for millions.
In 1967, Richter won the Junger Westen Prize and in 1972, he was chosen to represent Germany at the Venice Biennale. That same year, he exhibited at Documenta in Kassel, where he showed again in 1977, 1982 and 1987. At Documenta in 1982, Richter was awarded the Arnold Bode Prize in Kassel and in 1985 the Oskar Kokoschka Prize in Vienna.
Richter's surprisingly diverse range of work has received prolonged discussion from critics, especially due to his disregard for "traditional" stylistic progression and his use of photographs. Unlike American artists, he wasn't interested in the purity of art. Idealism had disillusioned him from an early age. Instead, he painted images without glory; images that rendered the ridiculous, ordinary; the tragic, ordinary; the beautiful, ordinary. Throughout his career, Richter has shrunk from giving a psychological insight into his art, leaving his admirers and critics guessing and at times confused. According to him, his work forms from structures and ideas that surround him, nothing more profound than that.