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

Karmin (Carmine)

Details
Gerhard Richter (b. 1932)
Karmin (Carmine)
signed, numbered and dated 'Richter 1994 810-1' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
78¾ x 78¾in. (200 x 200cm.)
Painted in 1994
Provenance
Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London.
Lord Anthony Jacobs, London.
Gagosian Gallery, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2010.
Literature
Gerhard Richter 1998, exh. cat., London, Anthony d'Offay Gallery, 1998, no. 810-1 (illustrated in colour, p. 89).
Gerhard Richter Werkverzeichnis 1993-2004, exh. cat., Dusseldorf, K20 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, 2005, p. 309, no. 810-1 (illustrated in colour, p. 271).
Exhibited
London, Anthony d' Offay Gallery, Gerhard Richter: Painting in the Nineties, 1995, no. 19 (illustrated in colour, pp. 53 and 84).
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

‘Almost all the abstract paintings show scenarios, surroundings and landscapes that don’t exist, but they create the impression that they could exist. As though they were photographs of scenarios and regions that had never yet been seen’ (G. Richter, quoted in ‘I Have Nothing to Say and I’m Saying It: Conversation between Gerhard Richter and Nicholas Serota ‘, in Gerhard Richter: Panorama, exh. cat., London, 2011, p. 19).

‘Richter has taken to faying the painted skin of his canvases with a spatula in broad strokes or long, wavering stripes leaving behind abraded, shimmering surfaces that at their sheerest and most luminous look like the Aurora Borealis suspended above various red, orange, yellow, green, blue or violet planets’ (R. Storr, Gerhard Richter: Forty Years of Painting, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2002, p. 81).

‘Abstract paintings are fictitious models because they visualize a reality, which we can neither see nor describe, but which we may nevertheless conclude exists. We attach negative names to this reality; the un-known, the un-graspable, the infinite, and for thousands of years we have depicted it in terms of substitute images live heaven and hell, gods and devils. With abstract painting we create a better means of approaching what can be neither seen nor understood’ (G. Richter, quoted in R. Nasgaard, ‘Gerhard Richter’, Gerhard Richter: Paintings, exh. cat., Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 1988, p. 107).

‘[In this period] Richter attempted to take possession of his domestic happiness through a long and painterly process, as if only this would make the situation believable’ (D. Elger, Gerhard Richter: A Life in Painting, Chicago 2009, p. 327).

Enshrouded in a luxurious velvety Carmine red veil, Karmin (Carmine) engulfs the viewer in its mysterious crimson glow. Like a luscious velvet curtain draped over a window, or rich cloth that cascades over the contours of a figure, this majestic painting tempts the viewer into its warm hearth with its enigmatic surface. In Karmin, Richter has become captivated by the rhythmic application and removal of paint in horizontal and vertical planes, each successive stroke of the squeegee drawing a veil across the previous layer of paint like a curtain, playing with the notion of presence and absence. Through addition and subtraction to the point of harmony, palimpsests of emerald green and azure blue emerge and dissolve through the apertures in the surface, offering glimpses of an imaginary landscape somewhere in the distance. Created in 1994, the painting reflects the supreme contentment of the artist. In 1991 Richter held his breakthrough exhibition at Tate Gallery, London and in 1993 he received a major touring retrospective Gerhard Richter: Malerei 1962-1993 curated by Kasper König accompanied by a three volume catalogue raisonné edited by Benjamin Buchloch. This latter exhibition containing 130 works carried out over the course of thirty years, was to entirely reinvent Richter’s career. As critic Doris von Drathen wrote shortly after, ‘there are exhibitions that, like great milestones, reset the standards in contemporary art. Richter’s retrospective, launching now at the ARC in Paris, is of this quality’ (D. von Drathen quoted in D. Elger, Gerhard Richter: A Life in Painting, Chicago 2009, p. 323). The beauty and balance of Karmin can be understood as a reflection of this personal satisfaction. Indeed a sense of his enriched emotional life is evident in the confident gestures, radiance and majestic palette of the painting. In 1994, whilst he was completing Karmin, Richter was also engaged in a series of paintings depicting his new wife Sabine Moritz. In particular the photorealist masterpiece, Lesende demonstrates a beautiful tenderness towards its subject, light illuminating Sabine’s elegant profile. The following year, Richter was to begin a suite of paintings entitled S. mit Kind, now housed in Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg. Depicting Sabine cradling their young son Moritz in her arms, Richter has again removed vertical swathes of paint with the squeegee to in effect reveal the fgures from behind the front surface. As Dietmar Elger suggests, in this period ‘Richter attempted to take possession of his domestic happiness through a long and painterly process, as if only this would make the situation believable’ (G. Richter quoted in D. Elger, Gerhard Richter: A Life in Painting, Chicago 2009, p. 327). It was in 1995 that Karmin was exhibited for the frst time in Gerhard Richter: Painting in the Nineties at Anthony d’Offay Gallery; an acclaimed show including works that now reside in major museum collections such as Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Tate Modern, London, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, La Caixa Foundation, Barcelona and The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.

Executed during the run of the touring retrospective described above, this intersection of horizontal and vertical strokes in a grid-like assembly, and the harmonious intermarriage of weton- wet oil paint, creates a near sublime effect that recalls Richter’s greatest cycle of abstracts, the Bach series (1992, Moderna Museet, Stockholm) which were premiered here for the first time. As Richter has described, In Karmin vast antecedent layers laid down in horizontal swathes are revealed and submerged in the artist’s subsequent painting. Through the horizontal strokes of paint, Richter has swept through the lustrous medium in vertical planes from top to bottom, in an act of creative destruction, partially obscuring and at the same time allowing jewel-like blues and greens to interact with velveteen reds at the centre of the composition. As Robert Storr has observed, ‘Richter has taken to faying the painted skin of his canvases with a spatula in broad strokes or long, wavering stripes leaving behind abraded, shimmering surfaces that at their sheerest and most luminous look like the Aurora Borealis suspended above various red, orange, yellow, green, blue or violet planets’ (R. Storr, Gerhard Richter: Forty Years of Painting, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2002, p. 81).

In Karmin, Richter creates a work that celebrates the sensual pleasures of freely applied paint and colour, just as he accomplished in the Bach series. In addition to the rich optical experience of the painting, Richter encourages the viewer to immerse him or herself in the imaginary space of the composition. He insists that ‘paintings are always illusionistic’ so that a line, form or colour ‘is only interesting when it releases an interesting association’ (G. Richter quoted in R. Nasgaard, ‘Gerhard Richter’, Gerhard Richter: Paintings, exh. cat., Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago 1988, p. 107). In Karmin the cumulative layers of non-representational paint in hues of red, green and blue, cannot help but evoke the English rose garden or a Mediterranean sunset, offering a romantic window onto the world. Just as Claude Monet had done generations before him in his Nymphéas, Richter beautifully illuminates the shifting boundary between figuration and abstraction. Whilst Monet’s immersive, shimmering images of waterlilies and reflections on the quicksilver water of the pond at Giverny pushed figuration to the brink of abstraction, emphasising the illusory aspect of the lush, textured paint itself, in Karmin Richter has arrived at the same effect through different means.

For Richter, his free abstraction is the product of a long investigation into the possibilities of painting spanning more than five decades. Coming full-circle from his early Tisch (1962) in which he cancelled his photorealist image with haptic swirls of grey paint, Richter began in the 1980s to freely overlay his canvases with colourful streaks and drags of pigment using his signature squeegee. As Dietmar Elger has observed, ‘for Richter, the squeegee is the most important implement for integrating coincidence into his art. For years, he used it sparingly, but he came to appreciate how the structure of paint applied with a squeegee can never be completely controlled. It thus introduces a moment of surprise that often enables him to extricate himself from a creative dead-end, destroying a prior, unsatisfactory effort and opening the door to a fresh start’ (G. Richter quoted in D. Elger, Gerhard Richter: A Life in Painting, Chicago 2009, p. 251). This method was to find its purest articulation between 1989 and 1994 with large-format paintings such as Karmin. Deconstructing the relationship between figure and ground, Richter was embracing the contingency of his medium, enjoying the effects of the spontaneous yet confident application of paint. As he once explained, ‘it is a good technique for switching off thinking consciously, I can’t calculate the result. But subconsciously, I can sense it. This is a nice ‘between’ state’ (G. Richter quoted in D. Elger, Gerhard Richter: A Life in Painting, Chicago 2009, p. 251).

In his most definitive elucidation of his abstract method published in the Documenta 7 exhibition catalogue in 1979, Richter explained that for him, the abstract painting is no less a representation of reality than those photorealist figurative paintings of landscapes, people or places. Rather it represents the other end of the same spectrum, depicting the unseen, unspoken, intangible reality. As he elaborated, ‘every time we describe an event, add up a column of figures or take a photograph of a tree, we create a model; without models we would know nothing about reality and would be like animals. Abstract paintings are fictitious models because they visualize a reality, which we can neither see nor describe, but which may nevertheless conclude exists. We attach negative names to this reality; the un-known, the un-graspable, the infinite, and for thousands of years we have depicted it in terms of substitute images live heaven and hell, gods and devils. With abstract painting we create a better means of approaching what can be neither seen nor understood’ (G. Richter quoted in R. Nasgaard, ‘Gerhard Richter’, Gerhard Richter: Paintings, exh. cat., Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago 1988, p. 107).

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