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


GÜNTHER FÖRG (1952-2013)
each signed, consecutively numbered from one to ten and dated ‘Förg 1986’ (on the reverse)
acrylic on lead laid on wood, in ten parts
each: 22 1/2 x 14 3/4in. (57.2 x 37.5cm.)
Executed in 1986
Private Collection, Germany (acquired directly from the artist).
Anon. sale, Christie’s London, 1 July 2008, lot 425.
Private Collection, Belgium.
Anon. sale, Phillips de Pury & Company London, 30 June 2010, lot 220.
Private Collection, Singapore.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Hong Kong, Edouard Malingue Gallery, Günther Förg 1986-1992, 2020.
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. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.
Further details
This work is recorded in the archive of Günther Förg as No. WVF.86.B.0005.
We thank Mr. Michael Neff from the Estate of Günther Förg for the information he has kindly provided on this work.

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Lot Essay

Created in 1986, the present work is a majestic early example of Günther Förg’s lead paintings, and a rare instance of his multi-partite works. Comprising ten panels, each with a different colour field glimmering between two burnished orange strips, it represents a thrilling early statement of his conceptual approach to painting. Förg first began painting on lead during the mid-1980s, following on from his early interests in architecture and photography. The medium’s volatile, textured surface, he found, transformed flat planes of colour into near-sculptural objects, emphasising the material interaction between paint and its support. In doing so, Förg offered a riposte to Abstract Expressionism and other movements that had idolised the metaphysical power of painting: lead brought it plummeting back to the material realm, rendering it tactile and elemental. Förg’s multipartite works—a monumental example of which resides in the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam—emphasise this shift, taking on the quality of architectural installations. Here, crimson, royal blue, pastel pink, mint green and their companions are no longer conduits to the beyond, but rather concrete statements of real, physical presence.

Förg graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich in 1979. Like many of his comrades—among them Albert Oehlen and Martin Kippenberger—he came of age in a world that was highly sceptical about the continued relevance of painting. While his ‘Junge Wilde’ contemporaries responded to this doubt through wild, unrestrained gestural abstraction, Förg drew inspiration from artists such as Gerhard Richter, Robert Ryman and Blinky Palermo, who had engaged in sharp conceptual questioning about the nature of the picture plane itself. Among his earliest works were paintings made directly upon walls and canvases comprising solely of grey monochromatic surfaces, each questioning where the true aesthetic value of painting resided. Elsewhere, his photography practice also challenged the boundary between image, material and support: his images of Modernist architecture were hung in thick wooden frames and placed upon his wall paintings, as if posing as windows to the outside world. His sculptural practice, meanwhile, played similar games with the medium of bronze, incising the surface with lines that resembled frozen brushstrokes. By the time he came to paint on lead, the parameters of Förg’s practice were clear: at what point, he asked, does painting intersect with the physical world?

At the time of the present work, Förg was beginning to receive widespread acclaim. He had mounted solo shows at the Kunstraum München in 1984 and the Stedelijk Museum opposite Jeff Wall in 1985, and would exhibit at the Westfälischer Kunstverein and Kunsthalle Bern in 1986. Two years later, he made his solo debut in America: the country where Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko and others had extolled painting’s transcendental power, and hard-edged abstractionists such as Ellsworth Kelly had made a case for its aesthetic purity. On one hand, works such as the present play consciously with this heritage, evoking the motifs, gestures and structures in which many of these artists placed their faith. At the same time, however, each individual painting relishes in its own materiality: the colours themselves serve to highlight the fluid, unpredictable texture of their lead supports, effectively reversing the traditional relationship between image and ground. Light dances across their surface, seeming to illuminate the lead beneath the loose, shimmering brushstrokes. Ten times over the work affirms the raw, material alchemy that has always existed at the very heart of painting: the beauty of simply being.

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