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  • Provenance

    Private Collection

  • Exhibited

    London, Gagosian Gallery, Gerhard Richter Tapestries, 30 May - 27 July 2013, n.p. (another example illustrated and exhibited)

  • Literature

    Hubertus Butin, ed., Gerhard Richter: Editions 1965 - 2013. Catalogue Raisonné, Ostfildern, 2014, no. 142, p. 314 (another example illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Elegant, auratic and masterfully immortal, Yusuf serves as a paradigm of Richter’s inimitable spirit and most celebrated artistic endeavours. Measuring 276 x 378 cm and executed in 2009, the present work belongs to a kaleidoscopic quartet of tapestries that seek to interrogate the practice of painting. Comprising digital photographs mirrored fourfold to create complex and captivating compositions, the powerful series derives from a seminal work within Richter’s extensive oeuvre, Abstraktes Bild [724-4], 1990 – the nucleus of an illustrious epoch in the German painter’s later career. From the spectacular canvas came a phenomenally outstanding and visually arresting body of work, monumental in size and colossal in calibre.

    Allied in demeanour, the four incarnations of [724-4] - Yusuf, Musa, Iblan and Abdu - consist of the same artistic DNA, yet the works are idiosyncratic. Dazzling uniquely with an array of vibrant colours, hallucinogenic patterns and playful symmetry, multiple elements unite to create a psychedelic tetralogy. Subjecting viewers to a phenomenological encounter, the polychromatic and prismatic stratum provokes the viewer, commanding rigorous examination. Crimson dominates the composition as subtle flashes of amber frame the heterogeneous arrangement. The sensation of depth beneath the vivid pigmented silk thread is profound, whilst the apparent blurred gradation and brazen veils of colour further amount to an awe inspiring work typical of Richter’s artistic production.

    Richter’s pseudo-psychological enquiry follows a multiplying aesthetic based on the Rorschach test, a psychological projective examination of personality invented by the Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach. In a similar vein, in 1984 Andy Warhol produced a series modelled on the famous 'inkblot' assessment. Warhol achieved his visual lexicon by painting one side of the canvas and folding it vertically to imprint the other half. In the tapestries, however, the reflections of [724-4] derive from the digital and are subsequently machine produced, thus entirely divorced from the artist’s hand. Mathematical and inherently mechanical, Richter espouses a paradoxical perspective in which an organic and disorderly process is translated into a calculated and automated order.

    Referring to Sufism and the culture of Persia in the Middle East, Yusuf is entrenched in the history of craft work, textile and weaving. Utilising a medium that has long flirted with obsolescence, Richter’s artistic production is at once archaic and contemporary, temporal and timeless. With affinities to Native American tapestries as well as the Cloth of St Gereon and the Bayeaux Tapestry, Richter’s historical rapport is certainly manifold. Furthermore, the present work relates to titans of the tapestry world, artists such as Sonia Delaunay, Sophie Taeuber Arp, and Anni Albers. As a woman applying for the prestigious Staatliches Bauhaus school in Weimar in 1920, Albers was relegated to the weaving workshop, an environment thought to be overtly feminine and therefore inferior. A serendipitous sequence of events, Albers pioneered the medium, heralding the birth of abstraction from the spirit of textiles. Richter and artists such as Warhol have continued this ancient tradition, utilising fabric and textile to push the boundaries of painting.

    An endless repertoire, Richter’s abstraction and choice of medium can be seen as without comparison. Continuously reinventing his engagement with abstraction, the artist masterfully demonstrates his expertise across the most diverse materials. At once historical, spiritual perhaps even religious, Yusuf belongs to an unprecedented body of work. As Benjamin H. D. Buchloh notes, Richter's position within the canon of abstraction is one of ‘incontrovertible centrality’ (Benjamin H. D. Buchloh in Gerhard Richter: Large Abstracts,exh. cat., Museum Ludwig, Cologne, 2009, p. 9).

  • 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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signed and numbered 'Richter 3/8' on a fabric label affixed to the reverse
jacquard-woven tapestry
276 x 378 cm (108 5/8 x 148 7/8 in.)
Executed in 2009, this work is number 3 from an edition of 8 plus 2 artist's proofs.

£500,000 - 700,000 

Sold for £941,000

Contact Specialist
Henry Highley
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4061 [email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 29 June 2017