Gerhard Richter Joins Baselitz And Threatens to Pull Loaned Artworks from German Museums

Will he follow Baselitz's example?

German star artists such as Gerhard Richter isn't enough attract international top collectors. Photo: Deutsch-Perfekt

German star artist Gerhard Richter threatened to withdraw his loaned works from German museums
Photo: Deutsch-Perfekt

Germany’s most important contemporary artist, Gerhard Richter, is the latest art star to criticize the German government’s planned tightening of their cultural protection legislation.

Last Sunday, Georg Baselitz took radical action and withdrew all of his works on long-term or permanent loan from German museums to protest government plans, which would restrict artworks classified as “nationally significant cultural heritage” from being exported.

In an interview with the daily Dresdner Morgenpost, Richter threatened to take his pictures “out of the museums, quickly put them on the market and sell them off,” if the proposed amendment is passed.

Culture Minister Monika Grütters has encountered fierce resistance from Germany's art professionals. Photo: Charles Yunck via BZ-Berlin

Culture Minister Monika Grütters has encountered fierce resistance from Germany’s art professionals.
Photo: Charles Yunck via BZ-Berlin

He called the government’s plans “an infringement of freedom,” and declared that “nobody has the right to tell me what to do with my pictures.”

Richter explained that he would refuse to show his paintings to a government commission to ask for permission to sell them because “these people usually know nothing about art.”

However, unlike his compatriot Baselitz, Richter warned against acting prematurely. “It’s too early. So far there’s only a draft of the amendment,” he said. He explained that taking his paintings out of museums now, only to return them in case the amendment isn’t passed, “would take too much effort.”

The position was confirmed by Dieter Elger, director of the Gerhard Richter archive at the Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden. “For now, Mr. Richter will wait, but he is happy that the issue is being discussed,” Art Magazin reports.

Georg Baselitz. Photo via

Georg Baselitz has already withdrawn his artwork from German museums. Will Richter follow suit?
Photo via

Following Baselitz, Richter is now the second German art star to take a hard-line stance against the government’s proposals.

Only last week, German culture secretary Monika Grütters insisted that the amendments would not discourage private individuals from loaning important works to German museums. Now she has been proven wrong a second time.

If indeed Richter decides to follow Baselitz’s suit and pull his long-term and permanent loans from German museums, it could signal a major blow to the government’s plans.

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