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  • Provenance

    Volker Diehl, Berlin

  • Literature

    Angelike Thill, et al., Gerhard Richter: Catalogue Raisonné 1962–93, Vol. III, Ostfildern, 1993, no. 707–1 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    “If I paint an abstract picture I neither know in advance what it is supposed to look like, nor where I intend to go when I am painting, what could be done, to what end. For this reason the painting is a quasi blind, desperate effort, like that made by someone who has been cast out into a completely incomprehensible environment with no means of support – by someone who has a reasonable range of tools, materials and abilities and the urgent desire to build something meaningful and useful, but it cannot be a house or a chair or anything else that can be named, and therefore just starts building in the vague hope that his correct, expert activity will finally produce something correct and meaningful.”
     
    (From exhibition catalogue, Gerhard Richter, Tate Gallery, London, 1991, p. 116)
     
    In 1976, having already established a consequential and acclaimed oeuvre, Gerhard Richter gave a painting the title Abstract Painting (Abstraktes Bild in German), as he was conscious of marking a new start in his work. Resigned to the impossibility of drafting a valid image of the world, Richter decided to adopt the principle of letting the image come to him rather than creating it. What ensued was a pivotal, groundbreaking and still ongoing exploration of the possibilities of paint and painting. Following in the lineage of Monet, Pollock and Rothko, no artist, past or present, can claim to have taken the idea of the abstract in painting, in art for that matter, to the extent and length that Gerhard Richter has.
     
    The present lot is an exemplary work from this abstract series in which each painting, as the artist describes, is “a model or metaphor that is about a possibility of social coexistence. Looked at in this way, all that I am trying to do in each picture is to bring together the most disparate and mutually contradictory elements, alive and viable, in the greatest possible freedom,” (M. Hetschel and H. Friedel, eds., Gerhard Richter 1998, London, 1998, p. 11). Ironically, this freedom is achieved through a rigorous and meticulous painting technique involving layers upon layers of paint and a squeegee. As each layer is applied the squeegee is passed over the pigment revealing fresh unpredictable configurations of fields of colour. The masterful final result both reveals and conceals paint undermining a perceptual depth to the painting.
     
    “I do not pursue any particular intentions, system, or direction. I do not have a programme, a style, a course to follow. I have brought not being interested in specialist problems, working themes, in variations toward mastery. I shy away from all restrictions, I do not know what I want, I am inconsistent, indifferent, passive; I like things that are indeterminate and boundless, and I like persistent uncertainty. Other qualities promote achievement, acquisition, success, but they are as superseded as ideologies, views, concepts and names for things. Now that we do not have priests and philosophers any more, artists are the most important people in the world. That is the only thing that interests me.”
     
    (Gerhard Richter, artist statement from 1966, in N. Serota, ed., Gerhard Richter, London, 1992, p. 109).
     
    “What makes Gerhard Richter work? Clearly, in the process of painting, two contrary processes clash. He avoids the act of composition: the squeegee passes over an existing color interaction, and every time new and unpredictable color forms emerge. The artist’s eye, nevertheless, lives on in the notion of a definitive look to the painting, even though this is not precisely determined. It seems to crystallize only in the course of the successive stages of work, as the gesture with the squeegee constantly generates new and unpredictable paintings. Completion – which often looks like an arbitrary interruption – marks the point where the personal gesture meets the conscious knowledge that the artist accepts this and no other state of the painting.”
     
    (Anthony d’Offay Gallery, ed., Gerhard Richter 1998, 1998, p. 14)

  • Artist Biography

    Gerhard Richter

    German • 1932

    One of the most influential living painters, 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’s oeuvre oscillates between unorthodoxy and realism, much to the delight of institutions and the market alike.  

    From his career start in 1962, Richter developed both his photorealist and abstracted languages side-by-side, producing voraciously and evolving his artistic style in rapid intervals. Many of Richter's paintings find themselves in the permanent collections of the world's most revered museums. 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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29

Abstraktes Bild (707-1)

1989
Oil on canvas.
61.6 x 82.6 cm. (24 1/4 x 32 1/2 in).


Signed, dated and numbered "707-1 Richter 1989" on the reverse.

Estimate
£350,000 - 550,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £634,850

Contemporary Art Evening

12 Feb 2010
London