My friend and I went to visit the newest addition to SLAM (St. Louis Art Museum), the East Wing. We wended our way through the new installations. The abstract, the pop, the modern art filled the walls of this new maze of galleries. We came to one large gallery with tufted benches in warm brown leather for viewing the panels before us. On the east wall hung panels of black and white with color breaking through the layers, which represented the fall of the Berlin Wall as depicted by Gerhard Richter.


Standing with my face in the art, I did not touch the textured panels. I was honored that the museum did not put any barrier between the observer and the art, as often is the case in their galleries. To be that close to greatness filled my soul with curious joy.


I had recently watched "Gerhard Richter Painting" in a documentary film on Netflix. I felt like I knew him and his work, which is very presumptuous of me. Yet to experience seeing the film and his process, and then to see his work in person transported me to a place that only the modern world and modern art coinciding at the same time could accomplish. 

Without the technology of film, I would not have had such an intimate experience. When viewing the work of the masters from centuries ago, I could only imagine or read about their process. But in this instance, I had heard Gerhard talk about his process, witnessed his choice of color and technique, his self searching and his strength as he pulled the giant squeegee across the vibrant colors to obscure them with black or white masks, daring to make something of self-expression.

Artists need other artists. I am grateful that Gerhard Richter dared to express himself in paint and risked vulnerability by allowing himself to be filmed while painting.