Gerhard Richter - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session New York Thursday, May 19, 2022 | Phillips
  • Executed between 1977 and 1986, the following eight works by Gerhard Richter come from the esteemed Over Holland Collection. Until the late 1980s, Richter’s works on paper were a relatively unknown part of his extensive oeuvre. In 1987, the Museum Overholland launched the first exhibition dedicated exclusively to Richter’s drawings, in which seven of these works were exhibited.

    Poster for the 1987 Exhibition at Museum Over Holland
    Poster for the 1987 Exhibition at Museum Over Holland

    Ranging from works in graphite to vivid oil and watercolor paintings on paper, these eight drawings showcase the virtuosity with which Richter tackles his compositions. The earliest work in the group, Nach Fallschirm/After ‘Parachute’ demonstrates Richter’s skillful use of watercolor. In the 1960s and early 1970s, the artist’s works on paper were largely representational, featuring mostly landscapes and portraits. As time went on, Richter’s drawings, like his paintings, drifted further towards abstraction. This 1977 work represents a pivotal moment in the artist’s career when abstraction and representation blended together, and images were distinguished primarily by color, not form. In Nach Fallschirm/After ‘Parachute’, the translucence of the watercolor medium literally blurs the lines of the composition—a yellow passage in the upper half is most likely the eponymous parachute, with an ambiguous purple horizon line to the left.

    The 1985 works are, by contrast, entirely abstract. Rendered in smaller formats, 8.3.85, 7.12.85, and 12.12.85 boast saturated orange, yellow and red backgrounds with dynamic brushstrokes. In 8.3.85, thick strokes of gray obscure parts of the vibrant composition underneath, a technique reminiscent of some of the artist’s most renowned Abstraktes Bild paintings on canvas done in the same year. 7.12.85 and 12.12.85 feature thinner, active strokes created by Richter’s own finger, disrupting the tranquil scenes beneath that look almost like landscapes.


    Minimal sketches in graphite like 8.1.84 (1) and 8.1.84 (2) illustrate the artist’s delicate handling of lead, with linework in varying thickness and densities. In 4.10.85 (3), veils of layered, shaded graphite are broken by active erasure lines used like a paintbrush; the result is a masterwork on paper that is at once delicate and intense, with dramatic shadows and highlights. Richter reprises this handling of the instrument in 22.5.86 (2), this time leaving even less negative white space, resulting in a soft, gray gradient interrupted by thin black lines. 
    "Letting something arise instead of creating…no propositions, constructions, inventions, ideologies, -- in order to penetrate to the very core, something that is richer, has more life, to that which is beyond my understanding."
    —Gerhard Richter, in a diary entry dated February 28, 1985

    For many of these works, the artist utilized the unpredictability of his chosen mediums to his advantage. Throughout the compositions, we see watercolor or oil pooling past the confines of the sheet edge. In the graphite drawings, smudging from the artist’s own hand creates a smoothness that contrasts with the pencil’s harsh marks, and in 7.12.85 and 12.12.85, his own finger breaks apart the oil paint in unprecedented ways. It is precisely these techniques that illustrate the element of chance in Richter’s oeuvre, which has remained a key aspect to his works through the decades. The intimacy within these works of paper from the Over Holland Collection beautifully showcase such happy accidents, offering a special glimpse into the contemporary master’s practice. 

    • Provenance

      Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Kunstmuseum Winterthur; Kupferstich-Kabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden; Tilburg, Collection De Pont Museum, Gerhard Richter: Drawings and Watercolours 1964–1999, September 4, 1999–October 8, 2000, pp. 31, 133 (illustrated, p. 31)
      Krefeld, Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Gerhard Richter: Drawings, Watercolours, New Paintings, April 9–June 18, 2000
      Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Gerhard Richter: Works on Paper from the Collection of Museum Overholland and The Museum of Modern Art, New York, July 7–September 9, 2000

    • 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. 

      View More Works

Important Works by Gerhard Richter from the Over Holland Collection


Nach 'Fallschirm' (After 'Parachute')

signed and dated "Richter, 77" lower left
watercolor and graphite on paper
12 1/2 x 9 1/4 in. (31.8 x 23.5 cm)
Executed in 1977.

Full Cataloguing

$120,000 - 180,000 

Sold for $163,800

Contact Specialist

Annie Dolan
Specialist, Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
+1 212 940 1288

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 19 May 2022