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  • Provenance

    Galerie Fred Jahn, Munich
    Galerie Bernd Lutze, Friedrichshafen
    Galerie Löhrl, Mönchengladbach
    Hauser & Wirth, Zürich
    Private Collection, Switzerland
    Hauser & Wirth, Zürich

  • Exhibited

    Halifax, Anna Leonowens Gallery, Gerhard Richter: 17 Pictures, 4-18 July 1978
    Eindhoven, Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, Gerhard Richter: Abstract Paintings, 8 October-5 November 1978 and then travelled to London, Whitechapel Gallery (14 March- 22 April 1979)
    New York, Sperone Westwater Fischer Gallery, Gerhard Richter, March-April 1980
    Mannheim, Mannheimer Kunstverein, Abstrakte Bilder 1976 bis 1981, 18 April-16 May 1982
    Munich, Galerie Fred Jahn, Abstrakte Bilder 1976 bis 1981, 3 June-26 July 1982
    Naples, Galleria Lucio Amelio, Gerhard Richter, March 1983
    Friedrichshafen, Galerie Bernd Lutze, Abstrakte Bilder 1978-1984, 7 December 1984-4 January 1985
    Zürich, Hauser & Wirth, Gerhard Richter: Paintings 1964-1994, 28 October-23 December 1995

  • Literature

    H. Heere, Gerhard Richter – The Abstract Paintings, Bielefeld, 1982, pp. 14 and 20 (illustrated)
    Gerhard Richter. Pictures/Paintings 1962-1985, Kunsthalle Dusseldorf, Dusseldorf, 1986, pp. 211 and 389 (illustrated)
    Gerhard Richter: Paintings 1964-1994, exh. cat., Hauser & Wirth, Zürich, 1995 (illustrated, unpaged)
    H. Friedel, Reading Pictures - Possible Access to Gerhard Richter’s Atlas, Sakura City, 2001, p. 30 (illustrated)
    D. Elger, Gerhard Richter, Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 3: 1976-1987, Ostfildern, 2013, no. 432-4, p.124 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Painted in 1978, Abstraktes Bild is a vivid, spontaneous, and dynamic work of art that exudes movement and marks a pivotal transitional moment in Gerhard Richter’s career. Abstraktes Bild, signals the artist’s departure from figurative work as he transferred into the realm of abstraction. Richter’s method for creating this work adopted a technique of building up layers of paint using a method similar to a la prima meaning ‘wet on wet’. By painting sections and then blending the top layers with the undercoat, Richter began not only to explore the levels that could be created through impasto-like application but also to discover the effects that could be developed by adding carnation oil to the painting in order to keep the layers moist throughout the process. As each stage of the painting was completed, a new degree of abstraction was adopted, and this began one of the most important transformations for the artist’s technical approach to painting. Just as in previous works, Abstraktes Bild was developed by using ready-made images, yet Richter now chose to detach this work from the painterly modernistic mythology by which his previous works had been surrounded; he explained that now, 'the picture is the depiction, and painting is the technique for shattering it.' (G. Richter quoted in: Forty Years of Painting, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2002, p. 69).

    In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Richter’s departure from figurative work was also in part precipitated by his associations with Benjamin Buchloh and Konrad Fisher. Together they brought him into a circle of conceptual artist and thinkers. It was then that Richter began to remove traces of figuration from his work and exchanged them for existential or transcendental ideas, articulated by a brilliant display of painterly techniques as aforementioned. These two elements transformed Richter’s work into an entity that conveys the idea that abstraction should not be judged by how its immediate appearance relates to recognizable social constructs, objects, or emotions but rather what the psychological impact of the composition, line, and form are; this work is about construction not expression. As Robert Storr explained, 'for eyes accustomed to emotionally heated Action Painting or exultant Color Field abstraction, Richter's masterful but abrupt cooling down of the rhetoric of Post-War art can be even more disconcerting than Pop or Minimalism because it seemed at first glance to have employed that rhetoric' (R. Storr, quoted in Gerhard Richter: Forty Years of Painting, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2002, p. 69). For the artist, this liberated approach to abstract work is the result of experimentation and exploration of the possibilities of painting. Richter stated during an interview with Buchloh, 'I'm often astonished to find how much better chance is than I am' (G. Richter, interview with B. Buchloch, H. Obrist (ed.), Gerhard Richter: The Daily Practice of Painting Writings 1962-1993, London, 1995, p. 159). By dismantling the relationship between figure and ground, Richter discovered the contingency of his medium, relishing in the effects that spontaneous application of paint can have.

  • 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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Ο ◆20

Abstraktes Bild

1978
oil on canvas
60 x 65 cm (23 5/8 x 25 5/8 in.)
Signed, numbered and dated 'Richter 432/4 1978' on the reverse.

Estimate
£400,000 - 600,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £449,000

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
+44 207 318 4063

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 27 June 2016