Meet the world's most expensive painter

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Meet the most expensive living artist 02:21

Story highlights

  • Gerhard Richter is the world's most expensive painter
  • One of Richter's pieces, "Abstract Bild," sold at auction for $30 million in 2012
  • Richter has recently been making digital prints of horizontal stripes, but plans to return to painting

(CNN)Gerhard Richter is the world's most famous living painter.

Whether or not you realized you, you've likely seen on his works, whether it's one of his striking black-and-white portraits, simple glass sculptures of colorful abstractions, like "Abstract Bild," which sold for $30 million at auction in 2012, breaking the existing record for a living artist.
His most recognizable pieces are his recent strip prints, stylized photo-paintings based on one of his 1990s paintings. To create them, Richter reduced the original painting into horizontal stripes that are then divided, doubled and magnified to spectacular effect.
    But now, after three years exploring this subject, Richter is ready to return to the easel. CNN correspondent Nick Glass met with the 82-year-old artist to discuss moving on, looking back, and how it feels to be the world's most expensive painter.
    You've said that you will not make any further strip paintings. Why is that?
    I could only repeat myself now. It's extra pressure. I'm looking forward now ... It would be boring to repeat it and repeat it. I've done enough now.
    When did you decide you've expanded it enough? Because you could do this infinitely.
    After 4,000, you can't see the difference. You'd have to look through a microscope. It wouldn't make sense.
    Is there a moment when you thought "I've expressed enough in this way"?
    No, this is not a moment. It comes so slowly when you get tired.
    Did you miss the studio after spending so much time producing digital work?
    Of course, yeah. But it takes a while until you realize that you miss something.
    Do you still feel the compulsion to make art all of the time?
    Yeah. I feel better when I do something, when I produce.
    In 2011, you were the subject of a retrospective at London's Tate Modern. Did you enjoy the sense of looking back on a life?
    Of course. I can be proud I did so many things.
    Do you think you've made work that is timeless?
    This is a nice illusion ... I hope so. What means timeless? Twenty years? A hundred? A thousand?
    How do you feel when a Gerhard Richter painting for tens of millions of dollars?
    Ambivalent. On the one side, I am proud that they pay so much for this little painting I did that was extremely cheap. And on the other hand, I think that's not good ... They shouldn't pay 30 million for a painting. Even for a Picasso that's too much.
    What's next for you?
    I have a dream: I want to sit in my studio, no talk, no nothing. No show, no management, just painting. It would be nice.
    Is it still the same as it was when you were 22 rather than 82?
    I had time when I was 22 or 30 or 40. All this time, this I lost. OK, it's become too sentimental, this interview, no? (Laughs)