Gerhard Richter - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale Hong Kong Saturday, November 26, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London
    Private Collection
    Phillips, London, 10 February 2014, lot 15
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

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

  • Literature

    B. Buchloh, Gerhard Richter, Werkubersicht/Catalogue Raissone, vol. 3: 1962-1993, Ostfildern-Ruit 1993, no. 776-1, n.p. (illustrated)
    Dietmar Elger, Gerhard Richter Catalogue Raisonne. Volume 4. Nos. 652-1-805-6. 1988-1994, Ostfildern 2015, no. 776-1, p. 490 (illustrated)
    Kunst-und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland ed., Gerhard Richter, Werkübersicht/ Catalogue Raisonné 1962 - 1993 vol. III, Ostfildern-Ruit, 1993, no. 776-1, n.p. (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Executed in 1992, Abstraktes Bild 776-1 exemplifies the purest articulation of Richter’s finest period of abstraction “the culmination of a rigorous life-long investigation into the possibilities and limitations of painting” (Ulrich Wilmes quoted in Dietmar Elger, Gerhard Richter Catalogue Raisonne, vol. 4 1988-1994, Ostfildern, 2015, p. 22). Richter utilises a squeegee, his trademark method, to create sinuous columns of radiant Prussian blue fused with vivid chartreuse rippling down the canvas. The glistening ribbons of brilliant colour contrast with the more subdued violet background to form an eye-catching interplay of light and texture, tempting the viewer with some impenetrable reality hidden just beyond the painting’s surface. In addition to the superimposed layers of rich bejewelled tones, Richter’s left-to-right, stop-and-go motions of the squeegee stimulate the viewer’s tactile senses by producing build-ups of paint, lining and rising above the hypnotic and aqueous columns like tides, giving form to yet another dimension of the work.

    Abstraktes Bild is a key work realised during a climactic moment in Richter’s career when the artist achieved unprecedented global triumph, culminating in critical acclaim. Created the same year as his renowned four-part Bach suite (Moderna Museet, Stockholm), the monumental Abstraktes Bild belongs to one of Richter’s most highly celebrated abstract cycles. Abstraktes Bild 809-3, for instance, prestigiously resides in the joint collection of the Tate Modern and the National Galleries of Scotland. Other companion works, Abstraktes Bild 768-1, 771 and 780-1 are now housed as collection highlights in the Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden; Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg; and the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., respectively. Following a breakthrough retrospective at the Tate Modern, London, in 1991 and a prodigious presentation of his work in Germany at Documenta IX the subsequent year, Richter received a major touring retrospective Gerhard Richter: Malerei 1962-1993.

    The magnificent striations of Abstraktes Bild represent an innovative development in Richter’s technique in the 1990s. Robert Storr notes the artist “has taken to flaying the painted skin of his canvases with a spatula in broad strokes or long, wavering stripes leaving behind abraded, shimmering surfaces that at their sheerest most luminous look like the Aurora Borealis suspended above various red, orange, yellow, green blue or violet planets (Robert Storr, Gerhard Richter: Forty Years of Painting, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2002, p. 81). Offsetting the blended softness of the pigments, the sudden horizontal strips created by the hard edge of a palette knife cut across the canvas, imbuing the composition with a sense of unification and architectural structure. This process is not one of addition, but rather of subtraction. Richter explains in a statement from 1992, 'For about a year now, I have been unable to do anything in my painting but scrape off, pile on and then remove again. In this process, I don’t actually reveal what was beneath. If I wanted to do that, I would have to think what to reveal (figurative pictures or signs or patterns); that is, pictures that might as well be produced direct. It would be something of a symbolic trick: bringing to light the lost, buried pictures, or something to that effect. The process of applying, destroying and layering serves only to achieve a more varied technical repertoire in picture-making' (Gerhard Richter, ‘Notes 1992’ in Hans-Ulrich Obrist, ed., Gerhard Richter: The Daily Practice of Painting, London, 1995, p. 245).

    Richter acknowledges the irrepressible human urge to construct meaning and then deliberately frustrates this search as expressed by the squeegee, whose perforations induce the sensation of a long-lost figurative reality drifting just beyond the painting’s tangible surface. Though the artist was uninterested in total randomness, Richter explained of all his paintings in 1990, 'they should by all means, be smarter than me. I no longer have to be able to follow them completely. They have to be something that I no longer understand entirely. As long as I comprehend them theoretically, they are boring' (Gerhard Richter and Sabine Schütz. 'Gerhard Richter (interview)' in Journal of Contemporary Art, New York, Fall/Winter 1990, p. 35.) Abtraktes Bild therefore demonstrates Richter’s preoccupation with this oscillation between phases of coincidence and periods of calculation. Richter elaborates, 'And by not planning the result I hope to be able to realise rather a correctness and objectivity which any piece of nature (or a ready-made) always possesses' (Gerhard Richter and Sabine Schütz, “Gerhard Richter (interview)' in Journal of Contemporary Art, New York, Fall/Winter 1990, p. 43, in Dietmar Elger, Gerhard Richter Catalogue Raisonne, vol. 4 1988-1994, Ostfildern, 2015, p. 22).

  • Artist Biography

    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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Property of an Important European Collector


Abstraktes Bild 776-1

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

HK$18,000,000 - 25,000,000 

Sold for HK$19,880,000

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20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 27 November 2016