Betty by Gerhard Richter

Richard Barone

Blog #18 of 30

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June 8th, 2012 - 08:18 AM

Betty by Gerhard Richter

Why does this painting appeal when it defies the traditional rule of composition not to center prominent objects? Portrait artists normally center one eye along the vertical axis in order to add "life" and latent movement to the subject. But here, Betty's eye is dead center. Coordinates 0, 0. Nonetheless, Betty "sees" perfectly well. Her eyes are round and defy gravity, the forces that distort her face. Turn the image sideways and the distortion becomes evident. The rich lips are reminiscent of Vermeer's "Girl with a Pearl Earring," but the composition goes one step further, giving the viewer a “dog’s perspective” so common in contemporary art.

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