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signed, titled and inscribed “N.W.A. Ich improviere: das Bild ist von mir. Daniel Richter 2013” (on the frame)
oil on canvas
27 1/2x 39 3/8in. (70 x 100cm.)
Painted in 2010
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2012.
Salzburg, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Daniel Richter: Spagotzen, 2010, p. 23 (illustrated in colour, p. 22).
Hannover, Kestnergesellschaft, Daniel Richter 10001nacht, 2011, p. 85, no. 10 (illustrated in colour, p. 10). This exhibition later travelled to Berlin, Contemporary Fine Arts.
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.

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Lot Essay

Executed in 2010, Daniel Richter’s N.W.A. is poised between sublimity and paranoia. It deftly depicts a spectacular landscape in aqueous lines of oil paint. The viewer beholds a craggy orange mountain. Ever taller and darker peaks rise into the distance. Richter invokes the shadow of the German Romantics and their paeans towards the majesty and unknowability of transcendent nature. Yet this natural marvel is inhabited by three eerie figures glowing in a luminous yellow. One of them, only visible as a head at the bottom of the picture frame, appears to be staring out at the viewer. Have we trespassed into an environment where we do not belong? The work’s title, a reference to the hugely influential West Coast hip hop group, adds a further layer to the enigma.

Richter is a penetrating investigator of the nature of vision. In N.W.A., his mysterious figures seem to be caught by thermal imaging. Describing Richter’s engagement with contemporary ways of seeing, curator Christopher Heinrich says: ‘Richter's pictures are light-painting, though not in the sense of atmosphere created by chiaroscuro or of plein-airisme, but as experiments with contemporary forms of light’ (C. Heinrich, ‘Watch out for the bird!’, in Daniel Richter: Die Palette, 1995-2007, exh. cat. Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg 2007, p. 21).

Richter’s interest in finding new possibilities in paint echoes the work of his countryman Albert Oehlen, for whom he once worked as an assistant. Like Oehlen he has devoted his practice to reshaping and reinventing the medium of painting, while never losing a sense of wonder in its possibilities. In a recent interview he said: ‘My work is based on only one belief system, and that's the church of painting’ (D. Richter, quoted in O. Kupper, ‘Daniel Richter: A Very Boring Dream Come True’, Autre, 3 November 2022). N.W.A. is a teasing reminder that painting still holds many mysteries.

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