unit 8 post

During this final unit, we watched the 2018 German film, Never Look Away, directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. This movie was based on the life of the artist Gerhard Richter, and followed his life and terrors following his childhood in Soviet Germany. The movie starts in an art museum with the two characters Kurt (the character Richter is based on) and his aunt Elizabeth, and it can be identified early on that she struggles with mental illness, especially schizophrenia. Kurt idolizes his aunt, and is heartbroken and forever scarred when she is taken away to a mental hospital early on in his boyhood. This event haunts Kurt for the rest of his life, and he never got over this event that helped shape his art for the rest of his career. Identity was a major theme displayed throughout the film. Through Kurt’s personal expression through his art and by his actions, this theme teaches the viewer of the film that in order to truly be happy and successful, one must accept their identity as is, with flaws and all. 

In the movie and in real life, the fictional Kurt and the world renowned artist Gerhard Richter both believe and exhibit the fact that photography can be a harsh reality when it comes to art. It can expose those who wish to stay anonymous and reveal dangerous parts about one’s past. But sometimes, the truth deserves to be unveiled. By blurring their paintings, Kurt and Richter chose to “expose” those they painted, but never revealed why or for what reason why they painted said person. Richter claimed that, sometimes, “Reality is even more dreadful” when it comes to knowing the true story. He created each painting to aid him in getting over his childhood trauma, which seemed to help him immensely with his mental health. Each painting Kurt produced seemed to connect to some part of his life, but it never told the true events that haunted him. By doing this, it made his story personal to him, which I think made his art so successful. That is the beauty behind the blurriness in their paintings, it leaves one’s mind open to curiosity, and leaves the observer full of questions that only history and their own imagination can answer. 

One thing about art that makes it really special is that it comes from within. The most successful artists do not make something that they are pressured to create, they make something they are passionate about, something they can relate to. In the movie, Kurt did not begin to feel proud about his art until he created something related to him and his identity. While it was not as colorful or as innovative as some of the other things done by other artists at the time, it was true to him, and that was what made it so special. Identity is the core of what art should be about, it is a way of personal expression, and everybody expresses themselves differently. Some through sports, some through writing, and some through visual art.