Michael Krebber - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Friday, March 4, 2022 | Phillips

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  • Bearing a few essential gestural marks in translucid washes of colour Untitled (1999), portrays Michael Krebber’s conceptual approach to abstraction, holding the viewer in a moment of suspense. Krebber’s recognisably restrained approach to painting creates space for reconsideration of the mediums value and meaning. Stripped down to its purest form, Untitled’s tentative brushstrokes mark a checkered sheet, elegantly tracing the face of a woman. The present example is notably one of the artist’s most figurative abstractions.


    With a career that spans more than four decades, Krebber's art rightfully gained the admiration of his contemporaries, Albert Oehlen and Martin Kippenberger. Having studied at the Academy of Fine Arts Karlsruhe with Markus Lupertz, Krebber then worked as an assistantship to Georg Baselitz, markedly going on to be the assistant and close friend of Martin Kippenberger. In Untitled, we see these German influences reflected on to the surface of the fabric: the short daubs of paint speak to the work of Sigmar Polke, whilst the fine brushstrokes are instantly reminiscent of Albert Oehlen.


    Krebber developed his own artistic vocabulary while reflecting his peer’s take on institutional critique, who favoured politically engaged art through site-specific collaborative projects over traditional media. Krebber, who was ardently bound to the painterly avant-garde, took an intellectual approach to painting, subverting the politics of painting and the wider art world with its founding values of status, taste, and inequality.


    Krebber’s practice can be viewed as an arithmetic sequence of additions, subtractions, and multiplications, marked by fleeting instances of hesitation - a phenomenon that John Kelsey describes as ‘an ongoing hesitation between repetition and interruption (or between having an idea and having no idea).’i Krebber’s dissolving canvases recalls a quote by LA-based conceptual artist John Baldessari, ‘one of the best compliments I ever got was, John what I like about your work is what you leave out.’ii The same may be said about Krebber’s work in which the unsaid and the unseen has more gravity, resonance, and depth than what is visible to the naked eye. As Krebber’s flickering hand surfaces the fabric, leaving traces behind him which are a testimony of his consciousness and compelling curiosity about painting’s endless possibilities, it ultimately reveals Krebber’s greatest accomplishment– demonstrating that painting can be painted. Elegantly restrained and lyrically arranged, Michael Krebber’s Untitled is a masterful example of the artist’s multifaceted ouevre.


    Collector's Digest


    •    Krebber is a leading figure of Cologne’s art scene which came into prominence in the 1980s.


    •    Krebber studied at the Academy of Fine Arts Karlsruhe with Markus Lupertz and then worked as an assistantship to Georg Baselitz, before becoming the assistant and close friend of Martin Kippenberger.


    •    Krebber was awarded the Wolfgang Hahn Prize by the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, in 2015.


    •    Krebber has been the subject of recent solo presentations include Fondazione Antonio Dalle Nogare, Bolzano (2021); Museum Brandhorst, Munich (2019); Greene Naftali, New York (2021, 2018, 2015); Kunsthalle Bern (2017); Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto (2016); Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2015); and CAPC Musée d’art Contemporain, Bordeaux (2012).


    •    His work is in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; CAPC Musée d'art Contemporain, Bordeaux; Hamburger Bahnhof-Museum of Contemporary Art, Berlin; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; and Museum Brandhorst, Munich, among others. 

    i John Kelsey, ‘Stop Painting Painting’, Artfotum, vol. 44, no. 2, October 2005, p. 222, online
    ii John Baldessari Explains his “Strange Mind”’, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 29 April 2019, online

    • Provenance

      Private Collection, Germany
      Private Collection, Germany

    • Exhibited

      Copenhagen, Galerie Mikael Andersen, Michael Krebber & Cosima von Bonin, 6 August - 12 September 1999



signed and dated 'Krebber 99' on the stretcher
acrylic and pastel on patterned fabric
180 x 130 cm (70 7/8 x 51 1/8 in.)
Painted in 1999.

Full Cataloguing

£50,000 - 70,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £60,480

Contact Specialist

Simon Tovey

Specialist, Associate Director, Head of Day Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art
+44 20 7318 4084


20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 4 March 2022