NEO RAUCH (B. 1960)
NEO RAUCH (B. 1960)
NEO RAUCH (B. 1960)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
NEO RAUCH (B. 1960)

Hof (Courtyard)

NEO RAUCH (B. 1960)
Hof (Courtyard)
titled 'HOF' (upper left); signed and dated 'RAUCH 03' (lower right); signed and titled '"Hof" Neo Rauch' (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
97 1/2 x 78in. (247.7 x 198.1cm.)
Painted in 2003
Eigen + Art, Berlin.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Osaka, The National Museum of Art, Essential Painting, 2006.
Munich, Pinakothek der Moderne, Neo Rauch. Begleiter, 2010, p. 15 (illustrated in colour, p. 115).
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 will be removed to our storage facility at Momart. Christie’s will inform you if the lot has been sent offsite. Our removal and storage of the lot is subject to the terms and conditions of storage which can be found at and our fees for storage are set out in the table below - these will apply whether the lot remains with Christie’s or is removed elsewhere. Please call Christie’s Client Service 24 hours in advance to book a collection time at Momart. All collections from Momart will be by pre-booked appointment only. Tel: +44 (0)20 7839 9060 Email: If the lot remains at Christie’s it will be available for collection on any working day 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. Lots are not available for collection at weekends. 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.

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Tessa Lord
Tessa Lord Director, Senior Specialist

Lot Essay

Towering two-and-a-half metres in height, Hof (Courtyard) (2003) is a vibrant, monumental dreamscape by Neo Rauch. Three curious figures are engaged in enigmatic action: a small, bearded man, dressed something like a mid-century sports coach, sits in the foreground, holding up a manhole cover that beams out rays of energy. A large figure in otherworldly magenta and white garb—with gleaming boots and waistcoat and a skirt of tiered furs—slopes off-stage in the same direction, accompanied by a yellow-headed blue dog. A second manhole cover is propped against a pile of bricks in front of him; a monk-like man in the midground holds another. The scene unfolds against a backdrop of white terraced buildings and red trees. Antique tractors, as well as an illegible shopfront, can be glimpsed in the distance. In the brilliant blue sky, white clouds converge into a stemmed, rectangular shape that resembles an empty speech-bubble. The title ‘HOF’ is spelt out in a section of inky black cloud at the picture’s upper edge, whose glow recalls the yellow-green twilight of Giorgio de Chirico’s paintings. To the right, a tree overlooks proceedings with a huge, white knot in its trunk like a blind eye. With its virtuoso staging and tantalising, unresolved sense of narrative, the painting exemplifies the compelling mystery and power of Rauch’s work.

Rauch was born in 1960 in Leipzig, in communist East Germany, to parents who were killed in a train crash when he was just four weeks old. A submerged sense of rupture and cataclysm resounds through his paintings, which are intensely suggestive of symbol and meaning but consistently defy interpretation. Derived from his subconscious, the characters and tableaux that populate the paintings emerge, he says, of their own accord, and are arranged according to a pictorial rather than narrative logic. ‘My basic artistic approach is that I let things permeate through me, without any hierarchical pre-selection. And from the material I filter out, I then construct a private, very personal mosaic’ (N. Rauch, quoted in H. Liebs, ‘Nothing Embarrasses me Now,’ Süddeutsche Zeitung, 13 September 2006, p. 18). These hypnotic, esoteric compositions have reached worldwide acclaim over the past two decades: Hof was painted shortly after Rauch’s landmark 2002 retrospective at the Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht—his first outside Germany—as well as his receipt of the prestigious Van Gogh Award for Contemporary European Art.

Having honed his technical skills at the Leipzig Academy of Fine Arts in the early 1980s, Rauch was exposed to a flood of new visual material following the fall of the Berlin Wall, from advertising and Pop art to previously unseen strands of the Western canon. All of these stimuli would come to collide in his paintings. After seeing Giotto’s 13th-century frescoes in Assisi, Italy, on his first trip beyond the Iron Curtain, he spent a period working almost exclusively in black and white in order to sharpen his works’ structure. As he rose to prominence as part of the ‘New Leipzig School’ in the 1990s, his disjunctive scenes and figures remained muted in tone, and often had the unreal flatness of collage. Hof sees the realisation of a new phase in Rauch’s practice, where shadow, strident colour and disjunctions in scale began to play a greater role. With its plunging perspective and its richly, strangely costumed protagonists—profiled like the figures in a Renaissance Annunciation scene—it comes alive with spatial and chromatic drama. Are they facing an off-screen threat, holding their manhole-covers like shields, or awaiting the arrival of some revelation? No such questions can be answered, but the picture’s magic is absolute. ‘Painting’, Rauch says, ‘has its strongest effect on me when it appears as an unpremeditated, spontaneous thing like an act of nature, and makes me realise the force of amazement and of sensual experience’ (N. Rauch, quoted in Neo Rauch. para, exh. cat. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 2007, p. 79).

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