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  • Literature

    Hubertus Butin 139

  • Catalogue Essay

    September is a history painting, but not in the way that we might expect. Counter to the tradition of depicting a major event in a rhetorically grandiose format, Gerhard Richter instead presents us with an intimately scaled, almost obscured image that slowly unfurls before the viewer. Taken from the 2005 painting of the same title, Richter’s print, sandwiched between planes of glass, presents a crucial moment of the attacks of September 11th 2001.

    The artist’s initial painted composition was delicately, realistically reproduced in colourful detail - as Richter described it, "with the garish explosion beneath the wonderful blue sky and the flying rubble." However, he found the painting unbearable in this form, too real and too close both pictorially and perhaps emotionally. He stated: "That couldn’t work; only when I destroyed it, so to speak, scratched it off, was it fit to be seen." By flaying the surface of the image, Richter disrupts the meticulous paintwork, rendering the trauma not only visible but palpable.

    The image exists at the edge of being recognisable, at the liminal point where the information it contains could assemble into a number of known narratives, and the mind must work to create coherence from the ill-defined contours of form and blurred colour. A figment, or fraction of memory rather than a documentation of history, Richter’s September assembles the multitude of recorded and recycled mass media images from the viewer’s visual archive, with the glass plates recalling the digital and televisual mediums through which most of the world collectively witnessed this event. Yet by obscuring the image, Richter chooses to distance the viewer from this remembered visual record, deliberately opening gaps of meaning between us and the images we know so well.

  • 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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PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION, UNITED KINGDOM

56

September

2009
Digital inkjet print in colours, on white vinyl sheet, with grey colour printed on the reverse, mounted between two plates of glass with metal strainer on the reverse for wall-hanging (as issued), contained in the original grey wooden case.
I. 52 x 71.5 cm (20 1/2 x 28 1/8 in.)
glass 66 x 90 cm (25 7/8 x 35 3/8 in.)

Signed and numbered 29/40 in blue felt-tip pen on a label affixed to the reverse (there were also 4 artist's proofs and 9 unique colour variants), published by Joe Hage, London.

Estimate
£80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for £106,250

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Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 25 January 2018