Günther Förg - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Friday, March 3, 2023 | Phillips
  • “I switch from one medium to another, from, say, painting to photography. I think if there is a key to all this diversity, then it is architecture. That is the thread that holds all these things together.” 
    —Günther Förg 

    Günther Förg’s Untitled is one of two acrylic-on-copper works executed in 1987. Heralding the artist’s return to painting, German-born Förg had spent much of the 1980s experimenting with photography; a journey that saw him move away from his popular grey-scale monochromatic series and vast wall-paintings to align his artistic process more closely with what he saw as reality. Continuing to use Modernism as inspiration, Förg’s photographic works mainly focused on the large, functional structures of the Bauhaus and Fascist architectural movements.i This would prove to be hugely influential, particularly with the grid and window-like forms of his later pieces. Whether painting, sculpture or photography, a fascination with structure and architectural forms plays a key role in the development of his artistic oeuvre.

    “I like the coexistence of different media and approaches in my work.” 
    —Günther Förg

    Förg allows the raw materials to take centre stage within the present work. Through the careful juxtaposition and application of these materials, the artist is able to create a dichotomy between both texture and light, focusing on the contrasting matte paint and shiny metal surfaces. His choice of colour is deliberate, with the green reflecting the colour of oxidised copper, leaving the viewer to contemplate how different mediums communicate with each other.ii Vertical striations of the copper support pierce through the work, and we see the metal adopt a similar role to its more traditional oil counterpart. Förg is allowing the support to become an active medium within the work; a feature that differentiates it from previous abstract expressionist and colour field works by artists such as Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko. 


    The apparent simplicity of Günther Förg’s Untitled underlies the artist’s razor-sharp awareness of the complexities of materiality. Careful application of paint creates a geometric window to the copper support, elevating Förg’s work to one that references his own interest in architectural photography. This use of acrylic paint as a functioning three-dimensional element questions the sculptural possibilities of traditional mediums. Again, the viewer is asked to challenge their own understandings of not just Förg’s oeuvre, but how it fits within a broader art historical context. Whilst reflecting upon the modernists who had a profound influence on Förg’s career, the present piece not only demonstrates his maturity as an artist, but also provides a self-referential commentary upon his affinity with material, sculpture, and architecture.



    i Estate of Günther Förg, Hauser & Wirth, online.

    ii Kirby A. Gookin, ‘Günther Förg: Luhring Augustine & Hodes’, in Artforum, Summer 1988, p. 136

    • Provenance

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

    • Exhibited

      New York, Luhring Augustine & Hodes Gallery, Günther Förg, 5 March - 2 April 1988

    • Literature

      Kirby A. Gookin, 'Günther Förg: Luhring Augustine & Hodes', Artforum, Summer 1988, p. 136



signed and dated 'Förg 1987' on the reverse
acrylic on copper plate on wood
187.3 x 90.2 cm (73 3/4 x 35 1/2 in.)
Executed in 1987, this work is recorded in the archive of Günther Förg as No. WVF.87.B.0190.

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

Full Cataloguing

£100,000 - 150,000 ‡♠

Sold for £196,850

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20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 3 March 2023