Gerhard Richter - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Wednesday, October 2, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Video

    Gerhard Richter, 'Abstraktes Bild', Lot 29

    20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale, 2 October 2019

  • Provenance

    Wako Works of Art, Tokyo
    Private Collection, Hiroshima
    Galerie Löhrl, Mönchengladbach
    Galleria Arnés y Röpke, Madrid
    Private Collection, New York
    Galerie Springer & Winckler, Berlin
    Vanmoerkerke Collection, Belgium
    Private Collection, Europe
    Marian Boesky Gallery, New York
    Blain|Southern, London
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in July 2016

  • Exhibited

    Tokyo, Wako Works of Art, Gerhard Richter Part I: New Painting, 6 April - 4 May 1996, n.p. (illustrated)
    Madrid, Galeria Arnés & Röpke, Gerhard Richter: Abstract Paintings, 17 September - 21 November 2009
    Munich, Galerie Terminus, first choice / masterpieces, 4 July - 15 September 2012
    Augsburg, Galerie Noah, Gerhard Richter. With Paintings, Enamels, Photo Paintings, Prints and Editions from six decades, 29 July - 6 November 2016
    Weilburg, Rosenhang Museum, Encounter in Weilburg: Figure and Abstraction in Dialogue. Stephan Balkenhol and Gerhard Richter, 3 June - 31 August 2017

  • Literature

    Gerhard Richter 1998, exh. cat., Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London, 1998, no. 820-1, p. 105 (illustrated, p. 90)
    Gerhard Richter, exh. cat., K20 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, 2005, no. 820-1, p. 310 (illustrated, p. 272)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Pulsating with solar energy, Abstraktes Bild, 1994, is a stunning example of Gerhard Richter’s Abstract Painting series, which the artist commenced in 1977 and continued working on vigorously throughout his career. Dominated by a near-fluorescent expanse of yellow that lets discrete stabs of colour appear throughout, the present work demonstrates Richter’s unwavering interest in the intersection of colour and structure as a realm of extended possibilities. The horizontal swathes of paint, varying in density and opacity, conjure the vision of an illuminated and highly saturated landscape. Executed with Richter’s trademark tool - the squeegee - these luminous tides are serendipitously distributed throughout the surface, allowing for passages of translucence to emerge. Beginning to use the squeegee in the mid-1980s, Richter declared that he had been ‘unable to do anything in [his] painting but scrape off, pile on and then remove again’ since, signifying the importance of the new-found technique within his practice and oeuvre (Gerhard Richter, quoted in The Daily Practice of Painting: Writings 1962-1993, Cambridge, 1995, p. 242). A stunning and lavishly chromatic example from the artist’s Abstract Paintings, the present composition is exemplary of Richter’s unparalleled skill as a colourist.

    Chance within Richter’s Abstract Paintings takes on paramount importance, guiding the artist’s decisions throughout the works’ incremental process of creation. ‘When I paint an abstract picture, I neither know in advance what it is meant to look like nor, during the painting process, what I am aiming at and what to do about getting there’, he wrote. ‘Painting is consequently an almost blind, desperate effort, like that of a person abandoned, helpless, in totally incomprehensible surroundings – like that of a person who possesses a given set of tools, materials and abilities and has the urgent desire to build something useful which is not allowed to be a house or a chair or anything else that has a name; who therefore hacks away in the vague hope that by working in a proper, professional way he will ultimately turn out something proper and meaningful’ (Gerhard Richter, quoted in ‘Notes’, 1985, Gerhard Richter: Text. Writings, Interviews and Letters, 1961-2007, London, 2009, p. 142). Encapsulating Richter’s animated process defined by trust, repetition, and persistence, Abstraktes Bild displays the progressive meanderings that the artist has gone through whilst working on the canvas, ultimately amounting to an irrepressibly dynamic result, redolent of the energy deployed in Abstract Expressionist canvases. With its vigorous yellow hue and its elements of striation, Abstraktes Bild recalls Clyfford Still’s PH-1074 from 1956-59, which today resides in the artist’s museum in Colorado.

    Moving past the paintings’ eponymously established abstract nature, Richter has elucidated that his Abstract Paintings were, in his eyes, evocative of reality to the point of phenomenological sentience. ‘Almost all the abstract paintings show scenarios, surroundings and landscapes that don't exist, but they create the impression that they could exist’, he exclaimed. ‘As though they were photographs of scenarios and regions that had never yet been seen’ (Gerhard Richter, quoted in 'I Have Nothing to Say and I'm Saying It: Conversations between Gerhard Richter and Nicholas Serota', Gerhard Richter Panorama, London, 2011, p. 19). With the present work, Richter brings to mind a number of objects endowed with the composition’s constitutive hue, most convincingly the sun that shines on the earth and all its perceptive beings.

  • 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

signed, numbered and dated '820-1 Richter 1994' on the reverse
oil on canvas
72 x 102 cm (28 3/8 x 40 1/8 in.)
Painted in 1994.

£700,000 - 1,000,000 

Sold for £1,695,000

Contact Specialist

Olivia Thornton
Senior Director
Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Europe
+44 20 7318 4099


Rosanna Widén
Director, Senior Specialist
+44 20 7318 4060

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 2 October 2019