Dating from the artist’s most celebrated period of abstraction and one of the highlights of the fall season, Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild was acquired by the rock legend Eric Clapton at auction in 2001. The painting will be unveiled at Christie’s London where it will be on view to the public from 1-6 October, before being offered in the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction in New York (estimate in the range of $20million) on 15 November.
Abstraktes Bild is the second canvas in Richter’s monumental four-part series of works created in 1994. A superlative example of the artist’s celebrated abstraction, it is a dazzling, prismatic explosion of opulent jewelled tones.
‘This series marks a moment of great professional triumph for Richter,’ comments Francis Outred, Chairman and Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art for Christie’s in Europe, the Middle East, Russia and India. ‘First exhibited at Anthony d’Offay Gallery in 1995 as a group of four paintings, one of which is now in the joint collection of Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland, the further three were acquired at auction by Eric Clapton from the collection of Ulla and Heiner Pietzsch in 2001.’
Eleven years later, the first of Eric Clapton’s Richters to come to auction achieved a world-record price for the artist when it realised £21.3 million.
Standing as the culmination of a three-decade-long investigation into the properties of paint and perception, the works produced by Richter during the late 1980s and early 1990s represent the first major abstract achievements since those of Abstract Expressionism.
‘It is hard to think of [Richter] as anything other than one of the great colourists of late 20th-century painting’ Robert Storr
Revealing and obscuring in equal measure with its kaleidoscopic collision of shimmering tones, Abstraktes Bild confirms the assertion of the American curator, critic and artist Robert Storr: ‘It is hard to think of [Richter] as anything other than one of the great colourists of late 20th-century painting’.
Abstraktes Bild was first shown as part of the landmark exhibition Gerhard Richter: Painting in the Nineties. Following the artist’s career-defining retrospectives of 1991 and 1993-94, the 1995 show in London was a critical and commercial triumph, with works subsequently acquired by major museums across four continents.
Echoing the grid-like structures of Richter’s four-part Bach series (1992, Moderna Museet, Stockholm), and foreshadowing his six-part response to the work of John Cage (2006, Tate, London), the Abstraktes Bild represents an eloquent chapter in the closely-entwined stories of music and abstraction.