Günther Förg - New Now London Thursday, December 8, 2022 | Phillips

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  • Painted in 2007, during a period of great critical acclaim for the artist, Untitled is a highlight of one of the last series created by German artist Günther Förg. Coming to auction with exceptional provenance, this attractively-sized work was once held as part of The Essl Collection in Austria, one of the most important collections of contemporary art in Europe. In a manner highly characteristic of his Spot Paintings, Förg​ here positions the viewer in front of a large off-white background filled with linear ‘spots’ almost rhythmically applied to the canvas and enhanced by a diverse colour palette of vibrant reds, blues, pinks, greens, purples counterpointed by more sombre notes of deep browns and blacks. This rhythmic application allows for a brief sense of structure while leaving room for a deceptive simplicity that is once again done thoughtfully and purposefully by the artist.

     

    Born in Füssen, Germany in 1952, it did not take long for Günther Förg to be drawn to his artistic path. Towards the end of the 1970s the artist had already completed his formal training at The Academy of Fine Art in Munich, being the student of Karl Fred Dahmen, who was an advocate of the school of abstraction which was known as Art Informeli. Förg was deeply interested in the experimentation of mediums and what each one could bring to his artistic oeuvre. He was able to freely move from one medium to another without bounding himself to exclusively one. In doing so he managed to create a style that was not only unique but entirely his own. Förg’s artistic journey consisted of working with sculpture, photography, graphic design, and ultimately painting. As freely as he was able to transition through mediums, so were his transitional stylistic periods, smoothly progressing from one to the next. Even though clearly resisting any form of categorisation throughout his career, Förg was always able to maintain a thematic and structured oeuvre which delivered a deeply rooted interest in the intricacies of colour, materiality, and the notions of space.

     

    Spot Paintings

     

    As one of the last major series created by the artist, Förg's Spot paintings, marked a transition from his earlier Grid Paintings. The latter can be described as works which presented levels of structure and precision provided by rigid, grid-like forms which were intensified by the artist’s colour choices. The predominant focus of the Grid Paintings was the contemplation between the artist’s use of line and colour in a manner in which affected the viewers perception of physical space. In contrast, Förg’s Spot Paintings take in the full range of Förg’s artistic journey, taking elements from every aspect of his oeuvre. It is within this series that Förg completely forgoes all sense of structure and order and allows for his brushstrokes and colour palette to take over the canvas entirely.

     

    “Like Twombly’s scrawl, which frequently approximates language without performing a semantic function, Förg’s brushstrokes—his atomistic, if aggregated, marks—also evoke writing, but even more, the hypothetical arrangement of colours and shapes into a legible composition.”
    —Suzanne Hudson

     

    Throughout his career, Förg developed fascinating dialogues with a wide range of artists, including German post war masters such as Gerhard Richter and Georg Baselitz, as well as American Abstract Expressionists such as Mark Rothko and Cy Twombly. In its staccato, calligraphic rhythms and vibrant palette, Untitled especially recalls both Twombly’s celebrated Blackboard series, and the erratic, richly painted qualities of his later Lepanto series. By having spent the majority of his life engaging in some form of art historical study, Förg is very much aware of the artistic practice of aesthetic recycling and is able to collect elements of inspiration from a number of great artists and recreate a work of art which not only heightens our perception of colour, but simultaneously presents us with a newly formed language unique to the artist.

     

     

    Cy Twombly, Lepanto VI, 2001, Bayerische Staatsgemaeldesammlungen, Munich.  Image: Scala, Florence/bpk, Bildagentur fuer Kunst, Kultur und Geschichte, Berlin, Artwork: © Cy Twombly Foundation

     

     

    i Bruce Weber, ‘Günther Förg, German Artist Who Made Modernism His Theme, Dies at 61’, The New York Times, 18 December 2013, online.

    • Provenance

      Essl Collection, Austria
      Private Collection, Austria
      Private Collection, Germany
      Achenbach Hagemeier, Düsseldorf
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

20

Untitled

signed and dated 'Förg 07' upper right
acrylic on canvas
120.2 x 100 cm (47 3/8 x 39 3/8 in.)
Painted in 2007, this work is recorded in the archive of Günther Förg as No. WVF.07.B.0208.

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

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
£200,000 - 300,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £346,500

Contact Specialist

Charlotte Gibbs
Associate Specialist, Head of New Now
+44 20 7901 7993
[email protected]

 

New Now

London Auction 8 December 2022