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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED BRITISH COLLECTION


signed and dated 'D. Richter 2001' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
137 ¾ x 110 ¼in. (350 x 280cm.)
Painted in 2001
Victoria Miro Gallery, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2001.
Daniel Richter: Grünspan, exh. cat., Dusseldorf, K21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, 2002-2003, pp. 105 and 113, no. 7 (illustrated in colour, p. 61).
J. Wullschläger, '21st century painting is essential viewing at Whitechapel Gallery', in Financial Times, 13 February 2020.
Kiel, Kunsthalle, Daniel Richter, Billard um halbzehn, 2001, pp. 101, 110 and 119 (illustrated in colour, p. 93).
Toronto, The Power Plant, Daniel Richter: Pink Flag White Horse, 2004-2006, pp. 4 and 60 (illustrated in colour, p. 5). This exhibition later travelled to Vancouver, Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, University of British Columbia and Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada.
Basel, Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Daniel Richter: Huntergrund, 2006, p. 224, no. 2 (illustrated in colour, p. 15).
Humlebaek, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, DANIEL RICHTER - LONELY OLD SLOGANS, 2016-2017, pp. 26 and 78 (illustrated in colour on the cover; illustrated in colour, p. 27). This exhibition later travelled to Vienna, 21er Haus Belvedere and London, Camden Arts Centre.
London, Whitechapel Gallery, Radical Figures: Painting in the New Millenium, 2020, pp. 6-7, 66, 132 and 145, no. 29 (illustrated in colour, p. 67).
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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.
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Tessa Lord
Tessa Lord

Lot Essay

A towering centrepiece of the Whitechapel Gallery’s acclaimed 2020 exhibition Radical Figures: Painting in the New Millennium, Daniel Richter’s Tarifa is a major work that demonstrates his extraordinary contribution to figurative painting. Executed in 2001, it stems from a critical turning point in his practice: during this period, Richter began to move away from the wild abstractions of his youth – forged under the influence of the German ‘Junge Wilde’ – and channel his energies into politically-charged, expressive imagery. Spanning over three metres in height, the work belongs to a body of paintings based on news stories. Its source was a photograph from an article published in 2000, depicting African migrants stranded in a small boat en route to the Spanish resort of Tarifa on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. Richter translates the daytime image into a vision of vivid chromatic contrast, as if detected at night through an infrared lens. Several of the figures glare outwards at the viewer, imbuing the composition with a powerful voyeuristic tension. Situated within a rich history of shipwreck depictions – from J. M. W. Turner to Max Beckmann – it is a powerful emblem of today’s world, reaffirming painting’s role as a vital tool for social commentary.

Richter came to prominence in the years following the rise of international Neo-Expressionism. In Germany, the movement had been most radically embodied by a group of young artists including Martin Kippenberger, Albert Oehlen and Werner Büttner – energetic revolutionaries who proposed a subversive overhaul of aesthetic convention. Richter, who studied with Büttner in the 1990s and later worked as Oehlen’s studio assistant, was inspired by many of their teachings. Yet where Oehlen and Kippenberger had both migrated from figuration to abstraction during their early careers, Richter’s oeuvre evolved in the opposite direction: around the turn of the millennium, he began to dispense with his riotous, gestural language in favour of increasingly representational idioms. The artist cites Neo Rauch as a partial influence, admiring his surreal history paintings that used figuration to political ends. At the same time, he was inspired by his encounters with the work of Pierre Bonnard in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Here, he felt, was an artist who looked at the changing visual culture of his time – including the rise of photography – and asked how painting might react. It is perhaps no coincidence that Bonnard was also a major influence upon Richter’s contemporary Peter Doig, whose drifting, canoe-bound castaways invite close comparison with the present work.

Richter – like Bonnard, and indeed Doig – is conscious of paint’s inherent capacity for storytelling. Here, he amplifies the emotional tenor of his source image through abstract techniques, toying with hyper-real colours and saturated lighting. As Lydia Yee, chief curator of the Whitechapel Gallery’s exhibition, writes, ‘What look like abstract patterns on the figures and their clothing can also be read as heat maps of bodies’ (L. Yee, ibid., p. 7). The sea, too, glimmers like a photograph in the process of developing, yet to reveal its true depths. Much like Kippenberger, who also subverted the historic connotations of the shipwreck genre in his 1996 take on Théodore Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa, Richter infuses his composition with a dark sense of pathos. As Beate Ermacora writes, ‘[the] scene relegates the whole Romantic tradition of heroic seascapes to the category of a sentimental delusion: these figures are not poetic meditations on the human condition, but emblems of a very real crisis’ (B. Ermacora, quoted in Daniel Richter: Billard um halbzehn, exh. cat., Schleswig-Holsteinischen Kunstverein, Kunsthalle zu Kiel, 2001, p. 119). In updating the genre for the twenty-first century, the work affirms Richter’s status as one of the sharpest chroniclers of his time, fully alert to painting’s role in changing our perception of the world.

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