Gerhard Richter (B. 1932)
signed, numbered and dated '831-2 Richter 1995' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
78½ x 55¼ in. (199.4 x 140.3 cm.)
Painted in 1995.
Marian Goodman Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner
M. Hentschel & H. Friedel, Gerhard Richter: A Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings from 1993-1998, Stuttgart, 1998, n.p., no. 831-2 (illustrated).
New York, Marian Goodman Gallery, Gerhard Richter, October-November 1996.

Lot Essay

Gerhard Richter famously paints in both abstract and realist modes. His abstract works like Fee are a deconstruction of the very act of painting. He approaches the fabled "vital gesture" of Abstract Expressionism with a detached and scientific curiosity. Instead of attempting to proclaim existential truths, his paintings call into question paintings' ability to do so. Emotive with their luxurious colors and charged compositional passages, they are revelatory only in their sensual appeal and comment only on the art of painting. Richter states, "Yes, pleasure without remorse. Because with this intellectual, conceptual background, you would always have an excuse. They are colorful and painterly but they are also very intellectual. Be careful!" (quoted in R. Storr, "Interview with Gerhard Richter," Gerhard Richter: Forty Years of Painting, exh. cat., New York, 2002, p. 287)

Gerhard Richter's Fee is a quietly powerful painting. Striations of pinks and greens subtly shift into one another forming a veritable screen blocking all but a few passages of the layers of paint beneath. The revelations of these fleeting passages are short sojourns of access to the powerful dynamism that is the foundation of the painting. They create an acute tension and compel one to explore the compositional intricacy of the work. Fee revels in its unabashed beauty evoking the delicacy of Claude Monet's Nymphaes while retaining Richter's critical commentary.

Fee is a visual tour de force intentionally devoid of any discernable subject or interpretation. Of his abstract paintings Richter said, "We only find paintings interesting because we always search for something that looks familiar to us. I see something and in my head I compare it and try to find out what it relates to. And usually we do find those similarities and name them: table, blanket and so on. When we don't find anything, we are frustrated and that keeps us excited and interestedThat's how abstract painting works" (ibid, p. 304).


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