This work is registered in the artist's archives under number 319-3.
"Landscape is beautiful. It's probably the most terrific thing there is... I felt like painting something beautiful." (G. Richter, 1970, in: H.-U. Obrist (ed.), Gerhard Richter. The Daily Practice of Painting. Writings and Interviews 1962-1993, London 1995, p. 64.)
There is a sweep in the landscape in Villa, painted in 1972, that almost lends it a Romantic air. However, there is something lacking - not enough panorama, not enough horizon - that makes this a deliberately unsatisfactory take on the German Romantic landscape tradition. In the browns and greens that occupy most of the lower half of the painting, Richter expressly avoids inspiring the kind of awe and wonder invoked by the work of Casper David Friedrich for example. He has expressly avoided making a stance and has even avoided making this painting overly beautiful in order to bring the viewer's attention not only to the landscape, but to the artistic process itself.
As can be seen in the source photograph for Villa, Richter pointedly chose an image that lacked drama in comparison to some of the other candidates. It appears almost to be the cast-off photo, a discarded holiday snapshot instead of the flaunted and vaunted record of an important moment and view. The choice of this image appears almost illogical, with others available that would have provided more dramatic results. This cuts to the very heart of Richter's art - the process of execution is almost mechanical, involving minimal artistic intervention on the decision making level after the initial selection of the source, but instead being the result of draughtsmanship and craftsmanship. Discussing this choice of artistic technique, Richter pointed out that, "if I draw an object from nature, I start to stylize and to change it in accordance with my personal vision and my training. But if I paint from a photograph, I can forget all the criteria that I get from these sources. I can paint against my will, as it were. And that, to me, felt like an enrichment." (G. Richter, 1972, in: ibid., p. 66.) Richter has attempted to remove himself as much as possible from the artistic process, becoming a machine, the incarnation in flesh of the Pop art ideal.
Although in his removal from art, the clinical process by which he assembles his painting, Richter appears to disparage or ironise the artistic process, at the same time he breaths new life into figurative painting. Despite the very real photographic source, there is something almost abstract about the technique through which the picture has been rendered. This serves to make the viewer's eye more keen. This is indeed the oil version of an undramatic photograph, but in choosing the normal and the everyday over the idealised, Richter is in fact celebrating the beauty of the landscape. There is a hint of the Romantic in the image itself, but added to this is the fact that Richter has chosen to enshrine this picture in oil. He has chosen to raise it to the level of an artwork, a celebration of the landscape itself. In this sense, his artistic process takes the aims of the German Romantic landscapists to a new level, reclaiming the real world, not an idealised plot, for the viewer's enjoyment. There is nothing elitist about the image, no arcane conceptual theories surrounding it and making it opaque to any but the initiated. Instead, this is a banal landscape, visibly based on a photograph, the humblest of images of beauty being transformed into an Everyman's artwork. Richter is therefore opening up not only the appreciation of the countryside in all its glory, but also of art.