Karin Kneffel - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Thursday, June 27, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Senda, Barcelona
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2005

  • Catalogue Essay

    ‘When I paint, I always paint with what already exists. I move existing perspectives; I change the disposition of objects, which might only have had one function before and give them a new purpose; I change the light and with that light I illuminate the constellation of objects and interiors differently’. Karin Kneffel.

    Karin Kneffel’s monumental Ohne Titel is a compelling example of the artist’s photorealist paintings, which earnt Kneffel international artistic renown in the 1990s. After studying philosophy in the late 1970s, Kneffel enrolled at the esteemed Kunstakademie Düsseldorf from 1981 to 1987 where she studied under Gerhard Richter. The tension between illusionistic depth and flattened surface in Kneffel’s painting is reminiscent of that seen in Richter’s series of Photo Paintings, both produced by working from photographically mediated images. It is the striking linear perspective that draws our eyes into the compositionally minimal Ohne Titel, as is evident in Richter’s 1964 work Korridor (Städtisches Museum Gelsenkirchen). The present work imbues a disquieting atmosphere as the viewer is denied a definite sense of space. As our eyes are led by the perspectival lines towards the vanishing point, we see nothing but more carpeted stairs, with no view beyond them.

    In the present work, shades of deep red with blue and yellow arabesque runners appear timeless. The rich colours and ornamentation exude a sense of lavishness and perhaps suggest associations with petit bourgeois taste. As Kneffel explains, ‘a certain sense of melancholy and anxiety […] No one likes these kinds of furnishings. They are largely disregarded in intellectual circles, just as the classically modern Bauhaus furnishings are unanimously indisputable’ (the artist, quoted in Daniel J. Schreiber, ‘Looking Back to the Future’, Artist’s Website, online). In addition, the enormous scale of the painting distorts our perception as a quotidian flight of carpeted stairs. We are immediately dwarfed by the huge swathes of red paint, appearing abstract to the viewer until seen from a distance. It is through this ingenious interplay between reality and illusion that Kneffel absorbs us into her uncanny world.



Ohne Titel

each signed and dated 'Karin Kneffel 2003' on the reverse
oil on canvas, in 2 parts
each 199.4 x 200.1 cm (78 1/2 x 78 3/4 in.)
overall 398.8 x 200.1 cm (157 x 78 3/4 in.)

Painted in 2003.

£150,000 - 200,000 

Sold for £125,000

Contact Specialist

Tamila Kerimova

Director, Specialist
Head of Day Sale
44 20 7318 4065


20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 28 June 2019