Gerhard Richter - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Tuesday, October 4, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Marian Goodman Gallery, New York
    The Manilow Collection, Chicago (acquired from the above)
    Sotheby's, New York, 10 November 2010, lot 364
    Richard Green Gallery, London
    Private Collection, U.S.A (acquired from the above in 2011)
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Literature

    Kunst-und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland ed., Gerhard Richter Catalogue Raisonné: 1962 - 1993, Vol. III, Ostfildern-Ruit, 1993, no. 767-2, n.p. (illustrated)
    Dietmar Elger, Gerhard Richter, Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 4: 1988-1994, Ostfildern, 2015, no. 767-2, p. 459 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Painted in 1992, Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild is filled with colour and movement. While greens and greys appear to dominate the composition, smouldering flickers of warm yellow and red peek through, adding a dynamism that is accentuated by the vertical and horizontal striations through which Richter has dragged paint across the canvas. These elements demonstrate the alacrity with which Richter had perfected the use of the ‘squeegee’ as a tool for painting: adapted from the wipers used by window cleaners, it was only in the mid-1980s that the artist began to apply paint with them. They have since become an almost iconic aspect of his work, even featuring in films showing Richter at work.

    From a purely visual point of view, the squeegee creates complex, kaleidoscopic surfaces that are filled with seductive texture and detail. Often applying wet paint to a dried surface, Richter is able to drag the paint in a manner that creates a marbled effect; at the same time, the glimmer of colours from previous layers adds a sense of density and complexity to the composition.

    Richter’s practice of allowing the paint to dry in between his interventions with the surface serves a more practical, or conceptual purpose, in that it grants him a fresh perspective on each sally. In this way, he is able to revisit his canvas in an analytical manner, working in such a way as to remove any overly evocative or even tentatively figurative elements from the composition. Richter’s abstract paintings are intended to be precisely that: abstract paintings. He works hard to remove any hint of a motif, forcing the viewer to look again and again at his work in order to seek understanding.

    While the lack of any legible element may seem frustrating, it also forces the viewer to open his or her mind, or interpretative faculties, appreciating each and every detail of the painted surface in the quest for elements to read. The lack of a motif in Abstraktes Bild fits with Richter’s outlook, itself coloured by his own experiences under various ideological realms in the twentieth century - Nazism, Socialism, Capitalism. He has removed any overt design, instead permitting the painting to suggest itself and evolve:

    'No ideology. No religion, no belief, no meaning, no imagination, no invention, no creativity, no hope - but painting like Nature, painting as change, becoming, emerging, being-there, thusness; without an aim, and just as right, logical, perfect and incomprehensible’ (Gerhard Richter, 1985, quoted in H.-U. Obrist (ed.), Gerhard Richter: The Daily Practice of Painting. Writings and Interviews 1962-1993, trans. D. Britt, London, 1995, p. 121).

    While this was already the case in Richter’s earlier abstract paintings, the use of the squeegee allowed him to tap into this notion of an ever-shifting, self-formulating order all the more eloquently. As Dietmar Elger has written:

    'For Richter, the squeegee is the most important implement for integrating coincidence into his art. For years, he used it sparingly, but he came to appreciate how the structure of paint applied with a squeegee can never be completely controlled. It thus introduces a moment of surprise that often enables him to extricate himself from a creative dead-end, destroying a prior, unsatisfactory effort and opening the door to a fresh start. 'It is a good technique for switching off thinking,' Richter has said. 'Consciously, I can't calculate. But subconsciously, I can sense it. This is a nice "between' state"' (Gerhard Richter quoted in D. Elger, Gerhard Richter: A Life in Painting, trans. E.M. Solaro, Chicago & London, 2009, p. 251).

  • 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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Abstraktes Bild (767-2)

signed, dated and numbered 'Richter 1992 767-2' on the reverse
oil on canvas
62.2 x 62.2 cm (24 1/2 x 24 1/2 in.)
Painted in 1992.

£800,000 - 1,200,000 ‡♠

Sold for £1,085,000

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

Henry Highley
Head of Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4061

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 5 October 2016