Unit 8 Assignment 2: Luna Jerjees

In attempting to understand the meaning behind paintings and portrayals, it is often difficult to differentiate the artist’s intentions from the perspective of the viewer. Gerhard Richter’s paintings of Ulrike Meinhof, as a series, see the gradual change in the images from the beginning as a clear image based off the photograph to a, in the last image, very blurred, blended creation. In the progression of the paintings, we see Meinhof slowly distancing from reality. The once well-known terrorist slowly fading to nothingness. She, in the last image, takes on a much more human form, in which this idealized figure becomes just like the common man. Gerhard Richter’s youth portrait of Ulrike Meinhof paints a different picture, however. She appears young, a rising, new face in the fight against this new Germany. She appears youthful, untroubled by the years of work that she will face later. In this portrait, she is a person, not a character, she has not been demonized or dehumanized by the media. This is a way to identify with her on a much more physical, intimate level. However, in the “Dead” series of paintings, after many years with the RAF, Meinhof has lost any sense of humanity in these images. The series depicts her dead body the final place she will ever be seen. It’s a gruesome depiction of the fall of an influential person of the time.

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