Günther Förg - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Wednesday, March 6, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Luhring Augustine, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1992

  • Literature

    We thank Mr. Michael Neff from the Estate of Günther Förg for the information he has kindly provided on this work.

  • Catalogue Essay

    A commanding example of Günther Förg’s multi-disciplinary oeuvre, Untitled belongs to one of the artist’s most iconic series, commenced in the early 1980s and celebrating the versatility of lead. A study in contradictions, Untitled prodigiously showcases Förg’s ability to balance rigorous lines and unrestrained strokes, painterly two-dimensionality and sculptural texture. Rendering homage to a number of eminent figures of the avant-garde, Untitled is redolent of Blinky Palermo’s ingenious aluminium paintings, Donald Judd’s rigorous geometric constructions and Barnett Newman’s deeply reduced planes, whilst simultaneously exuding a force of abstraction distinctively its own. Masterfully flattening discrete textures and materials, the painting hovers between milky translucence and impenetrable density, conjuring a sense of depth that ostensibly digs into its own surface.

    Although Untitled’s rich yellow summons the viewer’s eye faster than the coarseness of its chromatic grey, Förg underscored the latter colour as a starting point from which his compositions could expand. A pigment that captivated Förg throughout his career, grey pervaded much of the artist’s practice across the various media he experimented with; his black and white photography, early grey monochromes and later lead paintings all converged in celebrating the polymorphous nature of the colour. Sensuously raw and unpolished, Untitled nonetheless departs from the liminal staticity of the lead’s coloration as the artist introduces a luminous tone, warm like an egg’s yolk, at the bottom half of the painting’s surface. The two constitutive colours’ neat separation summons the rigour and formality of minimalist composition, yet the brightness of the heliacal colour suffuses the lead’s metallic heaviness with hints of gleaming light. These two contradicting yet mutually invigorating energies masterfully showcase the artist’s distinctive command of balance, as well as his desire to explore a ‘clarity of form with an expressionist handling’ (Günther Förg, in conversation with David Ryan, Talking Painting, Karlsruhe, 1997).

    Whereas the minimalist artists’ work relied on the reduction of form and the avid promotion of clean geometry, Förg indeed placed special emphasis on painterly texture and depth, extending his predecessors’ spatial investigations through uncalculated gestures and incongruous material juxtapositions. Presaging future experimentation with brighter colour palettes, Untitled is a stellar synthesis of the artist’s practice; situated at the core of Förg’s oeuvre, it exists alongside a range of comparable works housed in esteemed public collections, namely the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.



upper part signed, numbered and dated '22/88 Förg 1988' on the reverse; lower part signed, numbered and dated '22/88 Förg 88' on the reverse
acrylic on lead on wood, in 2 parts
each 90.1 x 120 cm (35 1/2 x 47 1/4 in.)
overall 180.3 x 120 cm (70 7/8 x 47 1/4 in.)

Painted in 1988, this work is recorded in the archive of Günther Förg as No. WVF.88.B.0481.

£120,000 - 180,000 ‡♠

Sold for £411,000

Contact Specialist
Tamila Kerimova
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4065

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 8 March 2019