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  • Provenance

    Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin

  • Literature

    V. Breuvart, ed., Vitamin P, New Perspectives in Painting, London / New York, 2002, ill. no. 3, p. 279 (illustrated

  • Catalogue Essay

    Daniel Richter formulates new answers to the old question about the making of pictures. In this, he is indebted to the work of Oehlen and Kippenberger, and their demystification of the aura attributed to ‘the painting.’ Yet, in contrasted to their sometimes tired and tiresome challenges to the legitimacy of the painterly gesture, he exhibits a whole new vitality of both painterly vocabulary and imagery. Where Oehlen questioned the mystique of the painted picture with… washed out, soiled areas and elements that were literally crossed out… [Richter’s] paintings revel in intoxicating diversity and power of form and color… Meticulously composed and highly finished elements seem locked in conflict with smears, dribbles, and stains. (C. Heinrich, “Watch out for the bird,” in Hamburger Kunsthalle, ed., Daniel Richter: Die Palette 1995-2007, Malaga, 2007, p. 18).

    Daniel Richter’s sudden stylistic about-face at the turn of the millennium no doubt came as something of a shock to those who had been following the young painter’s rise to art-star status in the German painting scene and beyond. Educated at the Hamburg Hochschule fur bildende Kunste under Werner Büttner and having served as an assistant to Albert Oehlen, Richter spent the late 1990s making paintings that mixed the artist’s own sensibilities with the subversive, colorful cacophony of Buttner and Oehlen’s styles. Those present when Richter received his first solo exhibition, at the Hamburger Kunsthalle, reportedly said that “one had the impression that a flock of birds had digested their own gaudy plumage and left it behind on the canvas in the form of colorful droppings. The matière-minded paint splattering… was no more than the cue for a headlong dash towards a maximum overload of colour and paint.” (R. Ohrt, “Noch einmal blinde Kuh”, in Contemporary Fine Arts, ed., Daniel Richter – 17 Jahre Nasenbluten, Berlin, 1997, p. 10). The manic energy and eye-popping color suggested by this image of the birds comes as close as possible to aptly conveying the synesthesic effect of Richter’s initial psychedlia-imbued take on abstract expressionism. Just a few years after his appearance on the contemporary art radar, however, Richter abruptly switched gears, abandoning his abstractionist beginnings in favor of dark, politically-charged figurative paintings that represented scenes of urban violence and social tumult in an apocalyptic twist on historical realism.

    The Fools (2001) carries the saturated candy-colored palette of his formative aesthetic over into the figurative style that typifies his mature works, and continues Richter’s virtuoso melding of painterly practices, an alchemy of “copious techniques and applications [which] deceptively flaunt the process of making, yet remain elusive in their overwhelming complexity. Richter handles paint with an unwieldy passion: every color in his controlled chaos retains its magnetic purity, he creates depths that seem to grow, like an organic force, from within the canvas,” (P. Ellis, “About Daniel Richter and His Art,” The Triumph of Painting II, London, 2007). Like much of his figurative work, The Fools makes explicit the subtly menacing undertones present in his early abstractions: three figures in the left background appear to apprehensively await the arrival of the approaching figure in the foreground, an unidentified character with his back to the viewer rendered in sloppy, violent blues and blood reds and shown brandishing a blunt object. The electric-current feelings of tension and danger are as palpable as Richter’s coloration is vivid—he has captured a moment of impending disaster imagined in a style that is truly his own.


The Fools

Oil and lacquer on canvas.

92 1/2 x 59 1/8 in. (235 x 150 cm).
Signed, titled, and dated “Daniel Richter 2001 'The Fools'“ on the reverse. This work is accompanied by a photograph signed by the artist.

£120,000 - 180,000 

Sold for £132,000

The Marino Golinelli Collection

13 October 2007, 1pm