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    Sale 11798

    Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Auction

    30 June 2016, London, King Street

  • Lot 162

    Neo Rauch (b. 1960)


    Price Realised  


    Neo Rauch (b. 1960)
    signed and dated 'RAUCH 01' (lower right); titled 'ORTER' (lower edge)
    oil on canvas
    19 ¾ x 15 5/8in. (50 x 39.7cm,)
    Painted in 2001

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    ‘The most important quality features in painting for me are peculiarity, suggestiveness and timelessness’ (N. Rauch, quoted in Neo Rauch: Neue Rollen. Paintings 1993-2006, exh. cat. Wolfsburg, 2006, p. 166).

    More intimately scaled than Neo Rauch’s often vast and crowded scenes, Orter (2001) radiates the artist’s fascinating otherworldly power in a deceptively simple composition. Executed with consummate painterly skill, a man’s puny head and shoulders merge into the body of a dinosaur, lunging across an overcast field; his glistening reptile form at odds with a rather confused facial expression, this surreal centaur seems comically out of place amid the flat, Germanic rural landscape. Evoking Kafkaesque dreams of metamorphosis, the vivid imagery of 1960s sci-fi and, with its taxonomic black label, something of the medieval bestiary, this is a vision that defies easy categorisation. The work’s mystic, liminal state is born from the in-betweenness of Rauch’s own experience, emerging from East German state control in the 1990s to the Capitalist West; his practice mingles the abiding echoes of Socialist Realism with disparate other elements to dizzying effect, employing sub- and unconscious motifs as a wellspring of inspiration. The fantastical chimera of Orter, whose title translates as something like ‘One who is in charge of places’ – as well as being an inversion of ‘Retro’ – enacts the delicious impossibility of trying to decode any single metaphor or message: the specimen label, with its backwards ‘R,’ cannot pin him down with one meaning. Perhaps this is something of a self-portrait, displaying Rauch as fantastical lizard king of his realm, roaming an enchanted visual arena with rules to which we are not made witness.

    Rauch has stated that ‘[t]he half-waking moment, in which matter adrift gets caught up in my filter chambers and is organised into new arrangements, is the essence of my painterly work’ (N. Rauch, quoted in Neo Rauch: Neue Rollen. Paintings 1993-2006, exh. cat. Wolfsburg, 2006, p. 174). These ‘arrangements’ have a compelling overall effect without yielding to attempts to decode their individual elements. What is clear, however, is the primacy of the act of painting in Rauch’s pictorial alchemy. He never prepares a canvas with studies, sketches or preliminary underdrawing, his figures taking shape only as paint is applied; this man-tyrannosaur is thus composed directly from the subliminal iconic and symbolic lifeblood of his painting, caught like a wild animal of the deep to be exhibited for our viewing pleasure. As throughout his distinct pictorial idiom, however, there are oblique clues to be found in Rauch’s history. The late 1960s, when Rauch was a small child, saw the ‘dinosaur renaissance:’ a massive resurgence in public interest following new scientific discoveries about dinosaurs, which led to a pop-culture explosion of comic books, B-movies and children’s toys featuring the prehistoric reptiles. The exotic appeal of all this media would have no doubt found its way into Rauch’s West German childhood, and remained in the subconscious source imagery of his dreams; indeed, the shiny brown skin and khaki landscape in Orter are closely reminiscent of dinosaur depictions at the time. Overall, though, the work’s merciless surrealism leaves any straight interpretation just out of reach. This is just how Rauch wants things, and precisely what makes his work so enjoyable; as he has said, ‘if the result were not uncertain, one of my key motivations for painting would be gone. It’s the adventure, the desire for risky encounters’ (N. Rauch, quoted in H. W. Holzwarth (ed.), Neo Rauch, Cologne 2012, p. 262).

    Special Notice

    Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.


    Galerie EIGEN + ART, Berlin.
    Private Collection, Germany.
    Galerie EIGEN + ART, Berlin.
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2009.


    Herausgegeben von Bonnefantenmuseum (ed.), Neo Rauch, Ostfildern-Ruit 2002, p. 56 (illustrated in colour, on the back cover, pp. 57 and 136).
    H. Broeker (ed.), Neo Rauch - Neue Rollen, Paintings 1993-2006, exh. cat., Wolfsburg, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, 2006-2007, p. 187 (illustrated in colour, p. 117).
    H-W. Schmidt (ed.), Neo Rauch Paintings, exh. cat., Munich, Pinakothek der Moderne, 2010 (illustrated in colour, p. 133).
    H. W. Holzwarth (ed.), Neo Rauch, Cologne 2012, p. 459 (illustrated in colour, p. 152).


    Hamburg, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Müde Helden - Exhausted Heroes: Ferdinand Hodler - Aleksandr Dejneka - Neo Rauch, 2012, p. 272 (illustrated in colour, p. 185).
    Duderstadt, Kunsthalle HGN, Traumwelten - In Court of the King of Dreams, 2012.
    London, Christie's Mayfair, The Bad Shepherd, 2014, p. 196 (on loan; illustrated in colour, p. 123; details illustrated in colour, pp. 124-125).