Günther Förg (1952-2013)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Günther Förg (1952-2013)

Ohne Titel (Untitled)

Details
Günther Förg (1952-2013)
Ohne Titel (Untitled)
signed and dated 'Förg 1990' (on the reverse)
acrylic on lead on wood
110 ¼ x 63in. (280 x 160cm.)
Executed in 1990
Provenance
Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin.
Private Collection.
Skarstedt Gallery, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Literature
M. Prince, "Review: Günther Förg at Berlin Max Hetzler" in Art in America, February 2012 (illustrated in colour, p. 122).
Exhibited
Berlin, Galerie Max Hetzler, Günther Förg 1987-2011, 2011-2012, p. 93 (illustrated in colour, p. 35; installation view illustrated in colour, pp. 32-33).
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.
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Lot Essay

‘I like very much the qualities of lead – the surface, the heaviness ... it gives the colour a different density and weight ... with the normal canvas you often have to kill the ground, give it something to react against. With the metals you already have something - its scratches, scrapes’ — G. Förg

Towering nearly three metres tall, Günther Förg’s Ohne Titel (Untitled) of 1990 is a monumental example of the lead paintings for which the artist is universally celebrated. Two shimmering lines, parallel and straight, hover upon a vast silvery ground: a titanic expanse of shifting tonal density that quivers as its catches the light. Förg’s lead works were central to his oeuvre, allowing him to explore the relationships between artwork and object, material and form, which fascinated him throughout his career. He was particularly interested in the effect of the soft, malleable qualities of the lead that became visible through the thin layers of paint which he applied to the surface. ‘I like very much the qualities of lead – the surface, the heaviness’, Förg explains; ‘it gives the colour a different density and weight ... with the normal canvas you often have to kill the ground, give it something to react against. With the metals you already have something - its scratches, scrapes’ (G. Förg, quoted in D. Ryan, Talking Painting, Karlsruhe 1997, http:/www.david-ryan.co.uk/Gunther0Forg). With its crinkles, furrows and lines, the lead surface becomes an infinite field of texture and depth, whose inconsistencies and instabilities work in counterpoint with its imposed geometric forms. In Untitled, the lead is allowed to write its own visual story: oxidised by the atmosphere and redefined by its surroundings, it becomes a living, breathing surface.

Although reminiscent of Barnett Newman’s ‘zip’ lines, works such as Untitled refuse any transcendental claim. Indeed, Förg consciously distanced himself from the near-spiritual aesthetic espoused by the American Abstract Expressionists. Distinguishing his aims from those of his predecessors, Förg explained, ‘Newman and Rothko attempted to rehabilitate in their works a unity and an order that for them had been lost ... For me, abstract art today is what one sees and nothing more’ (G. Förg, quoted in Günther Förg: Painting / Sculpture /Installation, exh. cat., 1989, Newport Beach, p. 6). Echoing Frank Stella’s famous words, ‘what you see is what you see’, Förg belonged to a post-modern generation for whom abstraction was no longer a means of expression that needed to be defended, sublimated and theorised; rather, it had become one means of expression among many others. ‘The reason for the continued importance of Förg’s oeuvre becomes clear’, the German critic Andreas Schlaegel observed. ‘The evolution of his direct, subjective engagement with the aesthetic of the sublime – conducted without the fear of stereotypical taboos – oscillates between appropriation and homage, yet Förg does so without ironic quotations or other such cheap distancing techniques. Instead, he throws mythical ballast overboard and appropriates picture-making strategies in a way that makes them look new’ (A. Schlaegel, quoted in B. Weber, ‘Günter Förg, German Artist Who Made Modernism His Theme, Dies at 61’, New York Times, 18 December 2013).
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