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Gerhard Richter (b. 1932)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY OF A DISTINGUISHED EUROPEAN FOUNDATION
Gerhard Richter (b. 1932)

5 Türen II (5 Doors II)

Details
Gerhard Richter (b. 1932)
5 Türen II (5 Doors II)
oil on canvas, in five parts
each: 92 7/8 x 42 5/8in. (233.5 x 108.3cm.)
overall: 92 7/8 x 213¼in. (233.5 x 541.5cm.)
Painted in 1967
Provenance
Galerie Heiner Friedrich, Munich.
Galerie Rudolf Zwirner, Cologne.
Acquired circa 1968.
Literature
'Austellung', in Das Kunstwerk, no. 5/6, 1968 (illustrated, p. 73).
in art. Das Kunstmagazin, May 1968 (illustrated, p. 11).
Museumsverein Braunschweig für zeitgenössische Kunst (ed.) Museumsverein Braunschweig für zeitgenössische Kunst e.V. Der Bestand 1984, Brunschwick 1984 (illustrated, p. 65).
J. Harten and D. Elger (eds.), Gerhard Richter: Paintings 1962-1985, Cologne 1986, no. 159 (illustrated, p. 66).
B. Buchloch (ed.), Gerhard Richter, Werkübersicht/ Catalogue Raisonné 1962-1993, vol. III, Ostfildern-Ruit 1993, no. 159 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).
Gerhard Richter, exh. cat., Prato, Centro per l'arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci, 1999 (illustrated, p. 29).
D. Elger,Gerhard Richter. Maler, Cologne 2002, pp. 188 and 190. J. Friedrich, Grau ohne Grund, Gerhard Richters Monochromien als Herausforderung der künstlerischen Avantgarde, Cologne 2009 (illustrated, p. 149).
D. Elger, Gerhard Richter Catalogue Raisonné Volume 1, Nos. 1-198, 1962-1968, Ostfildern-Ruit 2011, no. 159 (illustrated in colour, p. 322).
Exhibited
Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Cinquième Biennale de Paris. République Fédérale Allemande, 1967, no. 17 (titled Les portes, illustrated, unpaged).
Karlsruhe, Badischer Kunstverein, V. Biennale Paris. Die jungen Deutschen, 1968, no. 16 (titled Fünf Türen, illustrated, unpaged).
Baden-Baden, Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Junge deutsche Künstler. 14 x 14, 1968.
Hannover, Kunstverein Hannover, Deutsche Kunst Heute. 129 Frühjahrsausstellung, 1968 (each door individually titled: w, detail illustrated, p. 69).
Bergen, 40 tyske under 40, 1969. This exhibition later travelled to Stavanger, Trondheim and Oslo.
Bremen, Kunsthalle Bremen, 40 Deutsche unter 40, 1970 (illustrated, p. 83).
Humbelaek, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Billede efter billede, 2005.
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.

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Lot Essay

'The Doors are fabricated photographs, meaning they are not based on a photograph of a real door. Somewhere along the line it no longer satisfied me to paint photographs; I took the stylistic devices of photographs - accuracy, blurring illusoriness - and made doors, curtains and pipes with them. I was surprised by the results, which were unpredictable' (G. Richter, quoted in 'Statement 1967', Art International, March 1968, p. 55, reproduced in D. Elger (ed.), Gerhard Richter: Catalogue Raisonné Volume 1 1962-1968, Ostfildern-Ruit 2011, p. 321).


'One of two works to depict five doors, the other, 5 Türen I (1967) is currently housed in the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, where each of the doors opens in step to reveal more and more of the evacuated room behind. In both of these works, the viewer experiences a heady sense of movement as if walking through a series of Edward Muybridge action-still photographs'


'I just went on painting, but I clearly remember that this anti-painting mood did exist. At the end of the 1960s the art scene underwent its great politicisation. Painting was taboo, because it had no 'social relevance' and was therefore a bourgeois thing'
(D. Elger, Gerhard Richter: A Life in Painting, Cologne, 2010, p. 153).



INTRODUCTION

Realised on an epic scale, 5 Türen II (1967) is a seminal work dating from an intensely productive and pivotal moment in Gerhard Richter's celebrated oeuvre. Belonging to a stable of works including: Vier Glasscheiben (Four Glass Panes) (1967), the Colour Charts, the curtains, the gray abstracts and the townscapes amongst others, the present work marks an important, constructive step forward in the artist's post-modern practice. Responding to the fertile artistic milieu in Europe and the conceptual and minimal impetus of artists such as Carl Andre, Hanne Darboven, Lawrence Weiner, Sol LeWitt and Richard Serra showing in Düsseldorf at the time, Richter began to dramatically expand the possibilities of paint. Taking the medium in new and unchartered directions, Richter emerged in the late 1960s, as the greatest pioneer of painting the twentieth century would ever see.

RICHTER'S ILLUSORY LABYRINTH

Rendered with staggering verisimilitude across five life-size canvases, 5 Türen II invites the viewer to choose a portal and enter into its illusory labyrinth. Standing variously ajar and pivoting from different verticals, 5 Türen I projects a 'de Chirico-like' emptiness, each door flung open as if by some now absent protagonist. Rendered with smooth, masterful, liquescent brush marks that melt from bands of white to stripes of the deepest grey, the paint surface engenders unpredictable optical effects; the eye goaded into a sense of false depth and tangibility. Each door handle appears ready to press with one's palm, one's foot ready to cross the mesmeric threshold. One of two works to depict five doors, the other, 5 Türen I (1967) is currently housed in the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, where each of the doors opens in step to reveal more and more of the evacuated room behind. In both of these works, the viewer experiences a heady sense of movement as if walking through a series of Eadweard Muybridge action-still photographs. Moving from left to right, the stereoscopic effect is almost cinematographic, compounding the artist's powerful optical illusion. In creating 5 Türen II however, Richter eschewed the black and white photographic source image. Instead, he constructed rather than copied, using a hand-drawn sketch as his only reference. As the artist explained, 'the Doors are fabricated photographs, meaning they are not based on a photograph of a real door. Somewhere along the line it no longer satisfied me to paint photographs; I took the stylistic devices of photographs - accuracy, blurring illusoriness - and made doors, curtains and pipes with them. I was surprised by the results, which were unpredictable' (G. Richter, quoted in 'Statement 1967', Art International, March 1968, p. 55, reproduced in D. Elger (ed.), Gerhard Richter: Catalogue Raisonné Volume 1 1962-1968, Ostfildern-Ruit 2011, p. 321).


PAINTING AND ITS POSSIBILITIES

During this period of the 1960s, a staunchly anti-painting environment prevailed in Germany. For many artists, painting was deemed outmoded, with works by Jörg Immendorff amongst others entitled emphatically, Stop Painting (Hört auf zu malen) (1966). Major exhibitions at the time including Harald Szeemann's When Attitudes Become Form chose to leave painting to one side, excluding it from those debates surrounding contemporary art. As Richter later recalled, his approach was defiant: 'I just went on painting, but I clearly remember that this anti-painting mood did exist. At the end of the 1960s the art scene underwent its great politicisation. Painting was taboo, because it had no 'social relevance' and was therefore a bourgeois thing' (D. Elger, Gerhard Richter: A Life in Painting, Cologne, 2010, p. 153). For Richter, who had grown up with dogmatic Socialist Realism in East Germany, political ideology could never again be tolerated as part of his artistic practice. These discussions were themselves part of a broader debate being waged around the presumed duality of painting and photography, with the latter's claims to truth, objectivity and ultimately, superiority. In works such as 5 Türen II Richter sought to reinvigorate the medium of paint and sharpen its critical facility in the face of such critical arguments. In particular, he employed oils on canvas to challenge the viewer's understanding of truth, perception and deception, reality and illusion. As Dietmar Elger has suggested, with its dual emphasis on 'accuracy' and 'illusion', 5 Türen II was able to 'poke fun at the new regime of photography and at the supposed deficiencies of [paint]' (D. Elger, Gerhard Richter: A Life in Painting, Cologne 2010, p. 147).


1966-1969: REVOLUTIONARY YEARS

In these revolutionary years, Richter experimented widely with the different languages of painting, depicting colour charts, townscapes, seascapes and Alpine scenes, pivoting between abstraction and figuration. In all of these contemporary works, Richter was playing with perception, optical effect and the very nature of objective depiction versus illusion. As he went on to elaborate, '[the works] are metaphors of despair, prompted by the dilemma that our sense of sight causes us to apprehend things, but at the same time restricts and partly precludes our apprehension of reality' (G. Richter, quoted in 'Notes, 1971', H. Obrist (ed.), The Daily Practice of Painting: Writings and Interviews, 1962-1993, Cambridge 1995, p. 98).

It was during this time that Richter embarked upon his first Colour Charts, using ready-made, glossy commercial pigments to create crisp, rectangular arrangements of abstract colour on canvas. In doing so, he was eschewing the spiritual or sublime aspirations for colour articulated by artists such as Wassily Kandinsky or the Abstract Expressionists, to create a conceptual art. In 1967, he went further to undertake Vier Glasscheiben (Four Glass Panes) (1967), understood as a logical counterpart to 5 Tren I. In Vier Glasscheiben, the freestanding construction assembles scaled panes of glass, pivoted around a horizontal axis. The purpose of Vier Glasscheiben was to frame reality, just like a photograph, illuminating the construction of artificial perspective and the fallacy bound up with representation. As Richter himself described, the work permits us to 'see everything and grasp nothing' (R. Nasgaard, 'Gerhard Richter', Gerhard Richter: Paintings, exh. cat., Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago 1988, p. 107). Recalling Michelangelo Pistoletto's works begun in 1961 on mirrored surfaces, Richter was creating a visual trap for the viewer, a 'polemic devaluing of all other pictures; [a] provocation of the viewer, who sees himself instead of a picture' (R. Storr (ed.), Gerhard Richter: Forty Years of Painting,exh. cat., the Museum of Modern Art, New York 2002, p. 49). This provocation is at the heart of 5 Türen II and its confounding optical illusion. With its sequential portals arranged from left to right, the viewer is forced to challenge what his or her eye deems to be true, taking a step beyond the painterly smokescreen.

5 Türen II also enters a critical dialogue with Minimalism, whose impact was being felt in Düsseldorf during the late 1960s. Richter's friend Konrad Fischer had by this stage become a gallerist and important European sponsor of Carl Andre and Sol LeWitt. On 21st October, 1967 Fischer exhibited Andre's 5 x 20 Altstadt Rectangle comprising square steel plates that nearly covered the floor of the exhibition space. As Richter noted to himself, 'Carl Andre is in Düsseldorf. The opening is on Saturday. Nice person. Exhibition will probably be very good' (G. Richter, quoted in D. Elger, Gerhard Richter: A Life in Painting, Cologne, 2010, p. 145). For Minimalists, three dimensions were to be privileged over the flat picture plane of the painted canvas. As Donald Judd elaborated in his seminal text Specific Objects (1965), 'the main thing wrong with painting is that it is a rectangular plane placed flat against the wall. A rectangle is a shape itself; it is obviously the whole shape; it determines and limits the arrangement of whatever is on or inside of it' (D. Judd, 'Specific Objects', reproduced in J. Meyer (ed.), Minimalism, London 2000, p. 207). In 5 Türen II, Richter uses the reduced monochrome palette and serial construction of painted doors on successive canvases to confound this Minimalist assertion, transcending the flat picture plane with an illusion that must surely be considered one of his most masterful trompe l'oeil works.

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