Daniel Richter - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Friday, October 13, 2023 | Phillips
  • ‘‘I find artworks, especially paintings, most interesting when they seek to convey something to the viewer that is not entirely translatable through language, or even reason. When art fulfils its promise, it expands something within us and it offers some kind of truth – whatever construction that may be.’’
    —Daniel Richter

    Boldly expressive in its psychedelic combinations of colour and flattening of form, Schakal Reloaded is a charged example of Daniel Richter’s restlessly inventive and politically engaged oeuvre. One of Germany’s most significant contemporary artists, Richter exploded onto the art scene in the 1990s with his ornamental and fluorescent abstractions closely aligned to the aesthetics and energy of street art. Following a period designing sleeves for Punk records, Richter worked as a studio assistant for Albert Oehlen, an experience he credits with helping him to ‘think about painting in painting terms.’i


    Politically-charged and responsive to contemporary global events, Richter’s turn to a more figurative mode in the early 2000s radically redefined his art practice, and identified the artist as a pioneer in early 21st century redefinitions of history painting and figurative art. Executed in 2009, Schakal Reloaded addresses the key geopolitical issue of the era, the deteriorating situation in the Middle East taking centre stage as ‘images and stories from the endless asymmetrical war in Afghanistan recur […] like strangely distorted echoes.’ii Drawing on the strained, dissolving forms and pervasive anxiety at work in Edvard Munch’s Symbolist canvases, Richter developed a compelling pictorial language balancing tensions between the animated surface and darker themes of these politically reactive works, Schakal Reloaded presenting ‘a formulation of my thoughts and my sentiments and my feelings about the world.’iii



    Edvard Munch, The Smoke of the Train, 1900, Munch-museet, Oslo. Image: Luisa Ricciarini / Bridgeman Images


    Theme For A Jackal


    Set in a fairy tale mountain landscape of bright colours and snow-capped trees, at first glance the impressively-scaled painting seems to be illustrating a parable or folk tale of sorts, the titular jackal to the left of the work materialising out of the landscape like a vision or premonition in front of the alarmed group gathered to the left of the composition. Two men drop to the ground in a gesture of supplication or prayer, while another turns his body away, hands over his ears.

    ‘‘The idea of animals that run amok already worried me as a child and I also found it convincing as a metaphor on existence.’’ iv 
    —Daniel Richter

    Typically representative of worldly cunning, inventiveness, and indifference to the plight of others, anthropomorphised as tricksters and even associated with Kali, goddess of death and destruction in Hindu iconography, the jackal is, in itself, a potent symbol. However, contextualised alongside figures wearing traditional Pashtun turbans, the jackal adopts a far more unsettling reality. The common name of the destructive Armoured Wheeled Vehicles developed in the United Kingdom and deployed to Helmand Province in 2008, the ‘Jackal’ is fitted with range of weapons and was built to meet the specific needs of the British Army in the region where ‘tracking down the hideouts of the Muslim partisans in the mountainous border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan’ was a daily task of the occupying forces.v


    Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, Execution of the Defenders of Madrid, 3rd May, 1808, 1814, Prado, Madrid. Image: Bridgeman Images


    Working from the deluge of photographic media that now floods our daily lives, in these works, Richter takes on the tradition of history painting for the 21st century, a tradition that has ‘always concerned itself both with the depiction of events and the evocation of larger historical forces – revolution, insurrection, imperial adventures.’vi Using media-disseminated imagery, Richter not only addresses the unfolding historical moment, but the popular reception of the political message as it is manipulated by the press. Reproducing the sense of confusion that can arise as we sift through this constantly accumulating content, Richter’s paintings attempt ‘to produce an allegory, an image, to get clarity about something that is more like a mood’.’vii


    Blending the richly saturated, and strangely dream-like qualities of Edvard Munch and Peter Doig’s canvases with a commitment to gritty socio-political reality, Schakal Reloaded highlights the bold move made by Richter against prevailing artistic currents established by the generation of ‘Neue Wilde’ painters. Fusing a visual language of early 20th century symbolism with the political dimensions of certain pre-war German expressionist painting, Richter instead treats his subjects with a poetic sensitivity, conjuring ‘a fantastical realism, a proliferation of voices, effects, languages and cliches through his bold, bright canvases.’viii Rather than addressing a singular event, Schakal Reloaded conveys the charged and hallucinatory atmosphere of one moment among many, foregrounding the contradictions and complexities of our unfolding political present and proposing new languages through which to make sense of it.


    Daniel Richter discusses his work ahead of the opening of Lonely Old Slogans at Camden Art Centre in 2017


    Collector’s Digest

    • German artist Daniel Richter attended Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg and worked as an assistant to Albert Oehlen. Since the early 2000s he has produced large-scale oil paintings that bring together contemporary mass-media images with closely-observed figurative scenes. Shifting styles and subjects, he often creates work in dialogue with 19th and 20th century painters like James Ensor and Edvard Munch.

    • Richter has held solo exhibition in museums worldwide, including at Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt in 2014, and a major mid-career retrospective Lonely Old Slogans which opened at the Louisiana Museum, Humlebæk in 2016 before travelling to the 21er Haus in Vienna and the Camden Arts Centre in London the following year. He was also represented in the major survey of contemporary painting Radical Figures: Painting in the New Millennium, hosted by the Whitechapel Gallery in 2020, and held a large-scale solo exhibition titled Limbo alongside the 2022 59th Biennale di Venezia at the Scuola Grande di San Fantin. In October, Richter will open a solo exhibition of new works with Thaddaeus Ropac in London.

    • Examples of Richter’s work are held in major public collections including The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, and the Musée National d’Art Moderne – Centre Pompidou in Paris.



    i Daniel Richter, quoted in ‘Interview with Daniel Richter: Vienna, June 2009’, in Daniel Richter, exh. cat., Essl, 2009, p. 22.

    ii Kito Nedo, Daniel Richter 10001 Nacht, exh. cat., Hannover, 2011, p. 46.

    iii Daniel Richter, quoted in ‘Interview with Daniel Richter: Vienna, June 2009’, in Daniel Richter, exh. cat., Essl, 2009, p. 29.

    iv Daniel Richter, quoted in ‘Interview with Daniel Richter: Vienna, June 2009’, in Daniel Richter, exh. cat., Essl, 2009, p. 29.

    v Veit Görner, ‘foreword’, Daniel Richter 10001 Nacht, exh. cat., Hannover, 2011.

    vi Daniel Baird, The Brookyln Rail, June, 2004, online.

    vii Daniel Richter, quoted in ‘Interview with Daniel Richter: Vienna, June 2009’, in Daniel Richter, exh. cat., Essl, 2009, P. 9.

    viii Celia White, ‘Daniel Richter: Lonely Old Slogans’, Studio International, 8 September, 2017, online.

    • Provenance

      Galerie CFA, Berlin
      Galerie Haas, Zurich
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Literature

      Daniel Richter: Imitators Be There, exh. cat., Galerie Haas, Zurich, 2009, pp. 42-43 (illustrated in the artist's studio)


Schakal Reloaded

signed and dated 'Daniel Richter 2009' on the reverse
oil and spray paint on burlap
200.5 x 301 cm (78 7/8 x 118 1/2 in.)
Executed in 2009.

Full Cataloguing

£300,000 - 500,000 ‡♠

Sold for £508,000

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Rosanna Widén
Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+44 20 7318 4060

Olivia Thornton
Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Europe
+44 20 7318 4099

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 13 October 2023