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    Sale 11908

    First Open | Editions

    27 October 2016, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 73

    Gerhard Richter (b. 1932)

    Mao (see Butin 13)

    Price Realised  


    Gerhard Richter (b. 1932)
    Mao (see Butin 13)
    photograph, 1968, laid down onto stiff cardboard, signed and dated in ball-point pen, a preparatory work for the published edition of five hundred collotypes, a couple of creases at the lower left corner; with a different photograph of the same subject on the reverse of the board; both sides with some minor nicks at the sheet edges, generally good, original condition, framed
    Image & Sheet 648 x 468 mm.

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    In the late 1960’s, members of various protest movements in the West held Mao with a particular fascination, as they considered him as a symbol of revolutionary progress. The now iconic portrait of Mao, reproduced millions of times, in the “Little Red Book”, on posters, stamps, and currency, were all designed to create a personality cult around ‘The Great Leader’. In hindsight, it is ironic to think that his image was championed in student protests and demonstrations against the Vietnam War as - apparently unknown to the rest of the world – atrocities on a colossal scale were committed in the name of the Cultural Revolution in Mao’s China.

    By deliberately blurring the familiar portrait of Chairman Mao, Richter calls into the question the ease with which the famous icon was adopted in the West as a symbol of political hope. Not only does he cast doubt on the particular ideology that Mao stood for but also on the validity of any propaganda image, at a time when pictures of revolutionaries such as Mao and Che Guevara were household images. It is however interesting to note that the only other ‘iconic’ figure Richter chose to portray in the 1960’s in his signature blurred style was Queen Elizabeth II.

    The present two photographs of Mao mounted on one piece of cardboard are records of Richter’s working process. It seems he had pre-selected at least two images of Mao Tse-Tung for the collotype-edition of Mao (Butin 13), one smiling, the other with a toothy grin, and in the end decided for the now so familiar smiling one, a newspaper photograph of the ‘Great Leader’ of 1967.

    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.


    With Galerie Volker Diehl, Berlin.
    Acquired from the above by the present owner.