Reisebüro (Travel Agency)
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Gerhard Richter has been known to destroy and paint over any works which no longer fit his ever-changing idea of whom he is as an artist.

But only after he photographs those works for posterity, duh. Reisebüro (Travel Agency) seems to have made the cut because it is adequately unsure of anything.

The scene is well staffed with secretaries and materialistic optimism; the glamorous travel, Mad Men style that we’ve come to associate with the 1960’s. But the photographer seems to be experiencing some extreme turbulence, destabilized faces appear in double, everything is unclear, seatbelts are definitely supposed to be fastened and it seems like our camera toting host missed the announcement.

This ambivalence is classic post-WWII Germany. They loved Hitler and they hate Hitler. Richter is a meticulous artisan of myth. His backstory, which he constantly rewrites, is as good as the national history of 20th century of doom to boom. Definitely destined for wealth, definitely unhappy.

He was born is soon to be razed Dresden and his father fought for the Nazis. Don’t worry, he kind of hated his dad anyway. His sister battled mental illness and was starved to death by Nazi eugenicists, so you know, he suffered adequately from the war too. He helped make posters for the German Democratic Republic government, as a good boy helping to clean up his father’s mess. It’s a classic never came of age tale that mostly features confusion and a cynicism, barely concealed under fake art-spirituality, that tends to do really well under capitalism.

Fast forward to the 21st century, Richter has become a global icon for both artistic ambition and also safety. His art consistently outperforms the S&P 500, of which we’re certain Ms. Merkel is very proud. As one critic put it, Richter’s painting is “somehow classy yet neutered, like John Singer Sargent.” I’m not quite sure if that reference was at Sargent or Richter’s expense, and Richter probably prefers it that way. Poor guy still can’t make up his mind about much of anything.



  1. Hu, Jane. May 22, 2012. “Gerhard Richter Is a Famous Painter of Expensive Paintings.” The Awl. Accessed August 28, 2017. richter-is-a-famous-painter-of-expensive-paintings/
  2. Richter, Gerhard. “Biography: Early Years.” Gerhard Richter: 2017. Accessed August 28, 2017.
  3. Richter, Gerhard. “Biography: As a Young Man.” Gerhard Richter: 2017. Accessed August 28, 2017.
  4. Salmon, Felix. March 4, 2012. “The commodification of Gerhard Richter.” Reuters Blog. Accessed August 28, 2017. commodification-of-gerhard-richter/
  5. Schwartz, Stanford. “The Master of the Blur.” New York Review of Books: April 11, 2002. Accessed August 28, 2017. master-of-the-blur/