“It’s been a mammoth undertaking which started back in 2012.
“It is on a very large scale and there are works from multiple collections in Europe and the US.
“It’s logistically very difficult and expensive to transport the works, so it has been an enormous challenge.
“Some works are just too large to travel – you are limited to the size of the doors of the jumbo jet and people are nervous about sending works so far.”
Gerhard Richter: The Life of Images is the first major exhibition of his work in Australia, after well-received shows at high profile galleries including MOMA in New York and the Tate Modern in London.
Gerhard Richter has been called the world’s greatest living artist, and has set records on the international art market. In 2015, one of his paintings sold at auction for US$46.3 million, and they are highly prized by public and private collectors around the world.
Dr Hawker’s PhD examined Richter’s unique blend of photography and painting, and she is now the country’s leading expert on the artist and his work.
The selection of ninety works is the largest to leave the northern hemisphere and includes loans from the artist’s personal collection.
“He knew I had a long term interest in his work, and I have had the privilege of meeting him several times,” she said.
“The fact that he has given us access to his personal archives for this exhibition, and given us his stamp of approval is very gratifying.”
Dr Hawker vividly remembers the first time she saw his paintings – an experience she is keen for local art fans to share.
“I was at the Yale University Art Gallery 20 years ago, when I first saw his paintings up close,” she said.
“It was amazingly moving, and I was really taken by them and kept being drawn back. Once seen, they are never forgotten.
“Richter’s work has kept me interested all this time.
“There’s always something new – his work is imbued with sense of looking forward and again at things.”
Dr Hawker’s collaboration with GOMA on the exhibition is unprecedented.
“GOMA have never undertaken anything on this scale with a guest curator before,” she said.
“I would not have been able to undertake a project like this had it not been for the support of Griffith.”
To tie in with the opening of the exhibition, QCA held a symposium for postgraduate students this week. Gerhard Richter – Questions for Painters provided an opportunity to meet and hear from distinguished contemporary artists, and looked at the push and pull between abstract versus figurative; conceptual versus craft-based and painting versus photography.
Gerhard Richter: The Life of Images is on at GOMA until 4 February 2018.