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

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  • Provenance

    Greene Naftali Gallery, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Literature

    Rudi Fuchs, ed., Günther Förg: Back and Forth, Cologne, 2008, p. 81 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Günther Förg’s Untitled, painted in 2007, presents the viewer with a monumental canvas, two metres in width, the entire surface of which is covered in hatching-like sequences of vertical brushstrokes in a range of colours. Here and there, the gestural application of paint on the background is also in evidence, creating a richly-textured composition. This painting is full of energy and colour.

    Untitled is abstract, yet the areas of colour appear to have been arranged according to some system. Indeed, Untitled can be seen to have evolved from the grid and window paintings that Förg had previously created. In it, the actual lattice of the grids that Förg had superimposed has dissolved, leaving instead parcels of brushstrokes. In this, Förg has echoed the process of development by which Piet Mondrian had surpassed his own grid compositions, creating works such as Broadway Boogie-Woogie, in which the colour became autonomous, part of the grid, rather than captured by it.

    Much of Förg’s work involved a dialogue with the legacies of Modernism, not least the pictures of the Abstract Expressionists and their heirs. Looking at Untitled, references to the mark-making of Cy Twombly and the ‘zips’ and verticality of Barnett Newman can be discerned. However, Förg’s artistic process involved removing some of the intellectual aspirations and baggage of his artistic predecessors. Instead, he adapted some of their looks and techniques in order to create paintings. His move away from the monochrome in the 2000s in particular revealed an interest in colour, its form and its function, as is embodied in the sampler-like array of brushwork on display in Untitled. This is a deconstruction, just as his architectural photographs of historically-loaded Modernist buildings focused on details that removed any sense of context. That process of fragmentation, which ran as a thread through Förg’s work in many media, from sculpture and painting to photography and installation, is evident in the scattered marks of Untitled.

    While many of his contemporaries, especially in Germany—not least his friend Martin Kippenberger—would create wry, ironic and often anarchic assaults of the art of the past, Förg’s relationship was less critical. ‘Retrospectively, the reason for the continued importance of Förg’s oeuvre becomes clear,’ Andreas Schlaegel would explain in 2011, only a few years after Untitled was painted. ‘The evolution of his direct, subjective engagement with the aesthetic of the sublime — conducted without fear of stereotypical taboos — oscillates between appropriation and homage, yet Förg does so without any ironic quotations or other such cheap distancing techniques. Instead, he throws mythical ballast overboard and appropriates picture-making strategies in a way that makes them look new’ (Andreas Schlaegel, quoted in Bruce Weber, ‘Günther Förg, German Artist who Made Modernism his Theme, Dies at 61’, The New York Times, 18 December 2013).



signed and dated 'Forg 07' upper right
acrylic and oil on canvas
181 x 200.3 cm. (71 1/4 x 78 7/8 in.)
Painted in 2007.

£90,000 - 120,000 ‡♠

Sold for £149,000

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