Abstraktes Bild 776-1 (Abstract Painting)

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  • Provenance

    Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London

  • Exhibited

    Tokyo, Fuji Television Gallery, 5 European Artists (Baselitz, Clemente, Kiefer, Kounellis, Richter), September – October 1994

  • Literature

    Pagé, Suzanne , Jacob, Wenzel, Springfield, Björn, König, Kasper, Buchloh, Benjamin H. D, Catalogue Raisonné 1962 - 1993, Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern-Ruit (1993), Catalogue Raisonné: 776-1

  • Catalogue Essay

    One of the most prized and influential figures in Contemporary art, Gerhard Richter’s holds a legacy rivaled by few. His art demonstrates a masterly and experimental approach to oil-painting, fusing tradition and modernity and making for a myriad of interpretations. Oscillating between figurative, constructive and abstract designations, Richter returns to and builds upon his own archive of creative production, continually referring to and assembling techniques with heightened awareness.

    Born in Dresden in 1932, the artist trained at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts from 1951-1956 before later attending the Dusseldorf Academy between 1961-1961. Having explored a number of styles during his artistic training, Richter rose to prominence in the early 1960s with his photographic paintings, works in which the artist reproduced photographs in oil. Focusing on figurative works throughout the early-part of his career, Richter nonetheless held a clear interest in the abstract, producing a number of non-figurative paintings during these formative years.

    In the 1980s the artist returned to abstract with a newfound zeal. Created in 1991 Abstraktes Bild marks Richter’s finest period of abstraction. Radiant and lyrical, in the work, sinuous blue columns ripple seductively down the canvas. Behind these seeming vertebrae, rows of scratched lines create a subtle weave- like pattern. Set against a deep, murky background, the iridescent blue colour of the work produces a scintillating and illusory effect, evocative of the aqueous. Meanwhile the somewhat frantic horizontal striations echo sloped terrains and hilled panorama. As the artist has stated: "Almost all the abstract paintings show scenarios, surroundings and landscapes that don't exist, but they create the impression that they could exit. As though they were photographs of scenarios and regions that had never yet been seen." (G. Richter, 'I Have Nothing to Say and I'm Saying It: Conversations between Gerhard Richter and Nicholas Serota', Gerhard Richter Panorama, London, 2011, p. 19)

    Thus it would seem Abstraktes Bild’s beguiling format can be read as a clear configuration of the geological - an inventive and modern reinterpretation of the traditional practice of landscape painting. As an artist trained in the practices of Socialist Realism by the Dresden Academy whereby realism was triumphed and didactically enforced, this work exemplifies Richter’s decision to distance himself from the disciplines of his formal education while also testifying to his hallowed position as a pioneer in German art.

    Lavishly chromatic, in Abstraktes Bild, Richter’s unparalleled skill as a colorist is radiantly on display. In the piece luminous color collide in multiple variations. Hints of pink, white and yellow trickle beneath the deep brownish surface while rich azure blues and greens collide down the work, undulating in vibrancy and richness. Through his masterly handling of this kaleidoscope of tones, in Abstraktes Bild Richter has created a work which is not only visually sublime but through which surface a number of art historical parallels, from Impressionism to Abstract Expressionism can be drawn. As the watery tone holds a similar tranquility of Monet’s water lilies, the mottled and engulfing background of the piece seems to stand as a vestige to Rothko.

    While making references to canonical figures from the art canon this work also holds a clear allusion to the artist’s own oeuvre. With its slightly suffused lines it echoes the blurred technique in Richter’s photographic paintings whereby one has the feeling of looking at an out of focus image tantalizingly beyond decipherment. It is Richter’s ability to draw a plethora of evocations into his work which makes his art so poignant and poetic. In bearing a multiplicity of connotations, his works present numerous, rich readings, illuminating the viewer upon each inspection.

    Prior to embarking on the creation of one of his abstract pieces, Richter has no certain view of what the end-result will be. Rather he leaves chance to play a large part in their formation of his art . "It’s very surprising often", he told Tate Modern Director Nicholas Serota in an interview before the opening of a major retrospective of his work. "I’m painting again and again every day and so it seems you will never come to an end, it will never become a good painting, and suddenly it’s finished: 'Oh, good'." The production of Richter’abstract s pieces is a highly visceral and per formative process. Utilizing the full range of painter’s tools, Richter brushes, scrapes, and smears his pigments across the surface . The strokes blur, part, and converge again as they are wiped across the surface with a rigorous force. In relying solely upon apparatus to blend his choice of paints and markings, Richter attempts to remove his hand from the composition; thereby distancing himself somewhat from his work. Although we cannot clearly read the artist’s emotional life through these works, the elaborate formations on the canvas and the exited markings which etch across it, point to the elaborate and vigorous procedure by which they are conceived. In this sense the work epitomizes Richter’s thoughtful and ardent approach to art, which has fundamentally marked his long running career and brought him such renown.

  • Artist Bio

    Gerhard Richter

    German • 1932

    Powerhouse painter Gerhard Richter has been a key player in defining the formal and ideological agenda for painting in contemporary art. His instantaneously recognizable canvases literally and figuratively blur the lines of representation and abstraction. Uninterested in classification, Richter skates between unorthodoxy and realism, much to the delight of institutions and the market alike. 

    Richter's color palette of potent hues is all substance and "no style," in the artist's own words. From career start in 1962, Richter developed both his photorealist and abstracted languages side-by-side, producing voraciously and evolving his artistic style in short intervals. Richter's illusory paintings find themselves on the walls of the world's most revered museums—for instance, London’s Tate Modern displays the Cage (1) – (6), 2006 paintings that were named after experimental composer John Cage and that inspired the balletic 'Rambert Event' hosted by Phillips Berkeley Square in 2016. 

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Abstraktes Bild 776-1 (Abstract Painting)

1992
oil on canvas
92 x 82.1 cm. (36 1/4 x 32 3/8 in.)
Signed and numbered 'Richter 1992 776-1' on the reverse.

Estimate
£1,800,000 - 2,200,000 ‡ ♠

sold for £1,930,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
psumner@phillips.com
+44 207 318 4063

Contemporary Art Evening

London Evening Sale 10 February 2014 7pm