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signed and dated '11.10.04 Richter' (on the mount); dated '11.10.04' (on the backing board)
oil on colour photograph
3 7⁄8 x 5 7⁄8in. (10 x 15cm.)
Executed in 2004
Wako Works of Art, Tokyo.
Private Collection, Japan
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Tokyo, Wako Works of Art, Gerhard Richter: New Overpainted Photographs, 2010.
Leverkusen, Museum Morsbroich, Gerhard Richter: Overpainted Photographs, 2008-2009, p. 385 (illustrated in colour, p. 257). This exhibition later traveled to Geneva, Centre de la photographie Genève.
Madrid, Fundación Telefónica, Photo-España 2009: Gerhard Richter, Overpainted Photographs, 2009 (illustrated in colour, p. 59).

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Anna Touzin
Anna Touzin Specialist, Head of Day Sale

Lot Essay

The present works, 20.2.98, 11.10.04, and 15.03.08, are three of Gerhard Richter’s overpainted photographs, executed over the course of a decade between 1998 and 2008. Exquisitely rendered from his own photographs, the works offer rare, intimate snapshots into the artist’s life, his family and holidays. The artist created his first overpainted photograph in 1989, marking a natural culmination of his signature working methods by drawing together aspects of the photorealist and abstract canvases for which he is most widely known. Here, Richter propounds the image as a veritable object. Layering oil paint upon its surface in a vivid array of techniques, he accentuates the seductive materiality of his artefact, challenging the pictorial flatness inherent to the photographic medium. ‘I was surprised by photography, which we all use so massively every day’, Richter has reflected. ‘Suddenly, I saw it in a new way, as a picture that offered me a new view, free from all the conventional criteria I had always associated with art. It had no style, no composition, no judgement. It freed me from personal experience. For the first time, there was nothing to it: it was pure picture. That’s why I wanted to have it, to show it—not use it as a means to painting but use painting as a means to photography’ (G. Richter, quoted in M. Kimmelman, ‘Gerhard Richter: An Artist Beyond Isms’, The New York Times, 27 January 2002).

Richter’s interventions are far from obfuscations. The artist’s third wife Sabine Moritz and newborn son are the subjects of 20.2.98 (lot 152). A rare portrait in the artist’s oeuvre, the work bears the tender, dappled pattern of pulled white paint. In 11.10.04 (lot 151), Richter transfers a thick slab of white, green and yellow oil to the surface with his unmistakable squeegee, creating a visual echo with the photograph’s soft, rolling hill. A young boy—the artist's son now six years older—seems to rest upon the crest of the accretion, as Richter masterfully fuses his painterly and photographic idioms. 15.03.08 (lot 153) is emblazoned with its own intricately marbled pattern of pale pinks, mauves, and fine, dazzling flecks of green. Evoking the accidental, photographic effects of light leaks, Richter’s overpainted photographs attest to the legacy of the early twentieth-century Surrealists, and their pioneering notion of automatism. Favouring techniques that derived images from chance rather than conscious thought, it is the particular Surrealist development of decalcomania that can be identified here within Richter’s own seminal series. Eliding photography with painting, Richter exposes the manipulations and illusions inherent in all picture-making. Indeed, the present works touch on the dialectic at the heart of the artist’s oeuvre: that of the taut relationship between reality and representation, the image and illusion.

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