Sigmar Polke (1941-2010)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more Property from a Private Important European Collection
Gerhard Richter (b. 1932)

Abstraktes Bild

Gerhard Richter (b. 1932)
Abstraktes Bild
signed, numbered and dated '755-4 Richter 1992' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
24 1/8 x 24 1/8in. (61 x 61cm.)
Painted in 1992
Galerie Konrad Fischer, Dusseldorf.
Private Collection, Ostend.
Patrick de Brock Gallery, Knokke.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1997.
Kunst-und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (ed.), Gerhard Richter, Werkübersicht/Catalogue Raisonné: 1962-1993, vol. III, Ostfildern-Ruit 1993, p. 193, no. 755-4 (illustrated in colour, p. 135).
Parkett: Collaboration Gerhard Richter, no. 35, 1993 (illustrated in colour, p. 57).
D. Elger (ed.), Gerhard Richter Catalogue Raisonné 1988-1994, Volume 4 (nos. 652-1 – 805-6), Ostfildern 2015, p. 427, no. 755-4 (illustrated in colour, p. 427).
Nîmes, Carré d'Art, Musée d'Art Contemporain de Nîmes, Gerhard Richter. 100 Bilder, 1996.
Düsseldorf, Konrad Fischer Galerie, Gerhard Richter. Abstrakte Bilder, 1996.
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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

‘Grey is a colour – and sometimes, to me, the most important of all’
–Gerhard Richter

‘Almost all the abstract paintings show scenarios, surroundings and landscapes that don’t exist, but they create the impression that they could exist. As though they were photographs of scenarios and regions that had never yet been seen’
–Gerhard Richter

With its grid of dark, marbled bands, Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild is a shimmering greyscale vision dating from the finest period of his abstract painterly practice. Over still-wet layers of red, blue, green, white and black, the artist drags his paintbrush in vertical and horizontal stripes, creating a windowlike structure that invites the viewer to peer through to the marbled veils of colour beyond. The work stems from 1992: a pivotal year that saw Richter’s breakthrough retrospective at the Tate Gallery, London and his landmark exhibition at Documenta IX. After nearly two decades of rigorous experimentation, his abstract paintings reached new levels of technical and conceptual sophistication, hinting at figurative realities whilst simultaneously deflecting all attempts at interpretation. The present work bears witness not only to the rise of the grid during this period – exemplified in his landmark suite of Bach paintings – but also to the darker palette that began to encroach upon his oeuvre. From his earliest photo-paintings to his seminal series of Grau (Grey) paintings in the 1970s, Richter had been fascinated by the intermediate tonalities between black and white, and in the early 1990s began a series of grey-painted mirrors, or Grauer Spiegel. The present painting, with its luminous pools of pigment, seems to relate directly to the experience of looking at these works, evoking the shifting reflective properties of darkened glass. The following year, it was illustrated in an issue of Parkett dedicated to Richter’s practice, and was subsequently included in the acclaimed 1996 retrospective Gerhard Richter: 100 Bilder at the Musée d’art contemporain de Nîmes.

‘Grey is a colour – and sometimes, to me, the most important of all’, said Richter (G. Richter quoted in D. Elger and H-U. Obrist (eds.), Gerhard Richter Text: Writings, Interviews and Letters 1961-2007, London 2009, p. 61). As he took his place on a new global stage during this period, it is perhaps little wonder that he began to look back to his artistic roots. In many ways, it was through the colour grey that Richter made his seminal transition from figurative to abstract painting. His earliest works had sought to replicate the blurring effects of photographic images, using the volatile medium of paint to challenge the perceived ‘truthfulness’ of the camera. The grey monochromes that followed were extensions of this concept: for Richter, the colour ‘evokes neither feelings nor associations; it is really neither visible nor invisible. Its inconspicuousness gives it the capacity to mediate, to make visible, in a positively illusionistic way, like a photograph. It has the capacity that no other colour has, to make “nothing” visible... But grey, like formlessness and the rest, can be real only as an idea, and so all I can do is create a colour nuance that means grey but is not it. The painting is then a mixture of grey as a fiction and grey as a visible, designated area of colour’ (G. Richter, quoted in ‘Letter to Edy de Wilde, 23 February 1975’, H-U. Obrist (ed.), Gerhard Richter: The Daily Practice of Painting, London 1995, pp. 82-83). In the present work, the colour becomes a by-product of the techniques developed in his longrunning series of Abstraktes Bilder (Abstract Paintings). Combining the chance effects of paint with the underlying structure of the grid, Richter creates a chromatic palimpsest that hints at a world beyond the picture plane. Like the Grauer Spiegel – and indeed his photopaintings – tangible reality is held tantalisingly at bay.

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