GÜNTHER FÖRG (1952-2013)
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GÜNTHER FÖRG (1952-2013)


GÜNTHER FÖRG (1952-2013)
signed and dated 'Förg 07' (upper right)
acrylic and oil on canvas
69 1⁄8 x 84 ¾in. (175.6 x 215.3cm.)
Painted in 2007
Private Collection, Europe (acquired directly from the artist in 2008).
Helsinki, Galerie Forsblom, Günther Förg. Back and Forth, 2008, p. 158 (illustrated in colour, p. 27).
Further Details
This work is recorded in the archive of Günther Förg as no. WVF.07.B.0267. 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

Acquired directly from the artist the year after it was made, Günther Förg’s Untitled (2007) erupts with pure, ecstatic colour. Bursts of gold, rose, earthy greens and dark reds fizz enthusiastically atop a gleaming white ground, each daub an homage to the brush that made it. Monumental in scale, the work is an early, dazzling example from Förg’s series of Spot paintings, created between 2007 and 2009. Describing the ‘dancing’ colours of these works, Rudi Fuchs compared ‘their sparkling behaviour’ to ‘light on splashing water’ (R. Fuchs, Günther Förg: Back and Forth, Cologne 2008, pp. 9-10). These canvases were among the artist’s final works, a crescendo of sorts within a practice that, since its earliest days, had contended with the relationship between colour, form, and material. A euphoric celebration of pigment and texture, Untitled is an uninhibited ode to the act of painting.

Förg came to prominence during the 1980s, at a moment when many of his contemporaries were declaring the death of painting. Those who chose to engage with the medium sought new directions, upending centuries of convention and tradition. Hoping to relieve abstraction from its historical baggage, Förg charted his own course. He drew inspiration from his contemporaries Gerhard Richter, Robert Ryman, and Blinky Palermo, artists who, in various ways, interrogated the very nature of the picture plane. Förg also revelled in the material qualities of paint itself. Although his later works would invite comparison with Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman—who embraced transcendence through colour—Förg remained true to his belief that painting should be ideology-free. Instead, in works such as the present, the brushwork itself is the protagonist, ‘responsible’ for the character and content of the image at hand (K. Bell, ‘Günther Förg and the Edges of the Visual Field’ in Günther Förg: A Fragile Beauty, exh. cat. Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam 2018, p. 223). By allowing his daubs to direct the painting, Förg was able to experiment with material and colour; in short, he could play.

As with so much of the artist’s work, the Spot paintings emerged almost by accident. Förg had been making watercolours at his desk and would blot his brush onto the sheets of white paper he kept nearby. Intrigued by the marks that the sopping bristles made, he replicated the gesture across a series of large white canvases. The resulting compositions project a carefree abandon; they are optimistic, luminous and buoyant. Like his Modernist predecessors, Förg was concerned with the mark itself—the pigment upon the surface. There is no foreground or background, and no image reveals itself from the morass of colour. Like Cy Twombly’s scribbles, these marks suggest text, missives to an unknown recipient. Despite their illegibility, however, Förg’s hand is ever-present, each stroke of colour alive with his agency. As Gavin Delahunty has observed, ‘In the Spot paintings, Förg, for the first time, makes us absolutely aware of Förg’ (G. Delahunty, ‘Günther Förg: Apparitions of Modernism’, in ibid., p. 72).

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