Gerhard Richter (B. 1932)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Gerhard Richter (B. 1932)

Wiese (Meadow)

Gerhard Richter (B. 1932)
Wiese (Meadow)
signed, numbered and dated '549-2 Richter 1983' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
39 1/8 x 59in. (99.4 x 150cm.)
Painted in 1983
Galerie Fred Jahn, Munich.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1988.
J. Harten and D. Elger (eds.), Gerhard Richter Bilder: Paintings 1962-1985, exh. cat., Dusseldorf, Städtische Kunsthalle, 1986, p. 399, no. 549/2 (illustrated, p. 294).
Kunst-und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (ed.), Gerhard Richter, Werkübersicht/Catalogue Raisonné: 1962-1993, vol. III, Ostfildern-Ruit 1993, p. 176, no. 549-2 (illustrated in colour, p. 86).
B. Kopplin, Sammlung HypoVereinsbank Von der klassischen Moderne bis zur Gegenwart, Munich 2000, p. 50 (illustrated in colour, p. 51).
D. Elger, Gerhard Richter: Maler, Cologne 2002, p. 339.
D. Elger, Gerhard Richter: A Life in Painting, Chicago 2009, p. 269.
D. Elger (ed.), Gerhard Richter: Landschaften, Ostfildern-Ruit 2011, pp. 126 & 174 (illustrated in colour, p. 95).
D. Elger (ed.), Gerhard Richter Catalogue Raisonné, 1962-1993, Vol. III, Ostfildern-Ruit 2013, p. 384, no. 549-2 (illustrated in colour, p. 385).
Gerhard Richter: Abstraction, exh. cat., Potsdam, Museum Barberini, 2018, p. 150.
Munich, Galerie Fred Jahn, Gerhard Richter: Neun Bilder 1982-1987, 1988.
Essen, Kunstverein Ruhr, Gerhard Richter und die Romantik, 1994, p. 19, no. 6 (illustrated in colour, p. 18).
Munich, Haus der Kunst, Ernste Spiele: Der Geist der Romantik in der deutschen Kunst 1790-1990, 1995, p. 672, p. 96, no. 392 (illustrated in colour, p. 171).
Hanover, Sprengel Museum Hanover, Gerhard Richter: Landscapes, 1998-1999, pp. 74 & 124, no. 549-2 (illustrated in colour, p. 75).
Munich, Kunstpalais, Gerhard Richter: Werke aus zwei Jahrzehnten Sammlung HypoVereinsbank, 2007 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).
Munich, Haus der Kunst, Brillantfeuerwerk. Elf Unternehmen. Elf Sammlungen. Ein Ausstellung, 2008-2009, p. 41.
Emden, Kunsthalle Emden, Realismus: Das Abenteuer de Wirklichkeit, 2010, p. 292 (illustrated in colour, p. 155). This exhibition later travelled to Munich, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstifung.
Vienna, Bank Austria Kunstforum, Past Present Future: Highlights from the UniCredit Group Collection, 2009-2010, p. 54 & 137 (illustrated in colour, p. 55; illustrated, p. 137). This exhibition later travelled to Verona, Palazzo della Ragione and Istanbul, Yapi Kredi Cultural Centre.
Bologna, Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna, La Grande Magia: Opere scelte dalla Collezione UniCredit, 2013-2014, p. 211 (illustrated in colour, p. 96).
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. VAT rate of 20% is payable on hammer price and buyer's premium

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Lot Essay

With its halcyon rural vista, Wiese (Meadow) (1983) is an exquisite example of the celebrated photo-realist German landscapes that Gerhard Richter produced during the 1980s. It is the second work within this extraordinary cycle, and a sister painting to Scheune (Barn) (Art Gallery of Ontario): later examples are held in institutions worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Following on from his Cloudscapes and Seascapes of the late 1960s, these works represent the culmination of Richter’s conceptual engagement with the Romantic tradition of landscape painting. Based on one of the artist’s own photographs taken in the Bavarian Forest, it reproduces the shifting layers of focus embedded within the original snapshot. Though forged in deliberate dialogue with the paintings of artists such as Caspar David Friedrich, who wove grandiose hymns to the majesty of nature, the work ultimately subverts such traditions. Working in the aftermath of the Second World War, which had seen the heroic narratives of German Romanticism exploited by propaganda, Richter sought to emphasise the artificial nature of all imagery. As we approach the work, its warm pastoral exterior dissolves before our eyes, leaving us to stare at an impenetrable mass of meticulous brushstrokes. Beautiful, serene and yet ultimately unyielding, it is a nostalgic lament for painting’s lost innocence. The work was unveiled at Richter’s solo exhibition Gerhard Richter: Neun Bilder 1982-1987 at Galerie Fred Jahn, Munich, alongside eight other works that included a selection of his Candle and Skull paintings. It subsequently featured in the artist’s landmark retrospective Gerhard Richter: Landscapes held at the Sprengel Museum, Hanover, in 1998.

Over the course of his six-decade-long career, Richter has probed the relationship between reality and illusion. It was through his early body of photo-paintings, which deliberately mimicked the blurred effects of the camera, that he first came to explore abstraction: figuration, he believed, was no less deceptive than non-representational idioms. His return to photorealism in the 1980s, at a time when his abstract works were becoming increasingly complex, demonstrates his lack of distinction between the two modes. Neither free elaboration nor precise reproduction, he believed, could bridge the cavernous abyss between man and nature. Writing in 1986, Richter explained that 'My landscapes are not only beautiful or nostalgic, with a Romantic or classical suggestion of lost Paradises, but above all “untruthful” … and by “untruthful” I mean the glorifying way we look at Nature – Nature, which in all its forms is always against us, because it knows no meaning, no pity, no sympathy, because it knows nothing and is absolutely mindless: the total antithesis of ourselves, absolutely inhuman’ (G. Richter, ‘Notes, 1986’, quoted in H-U. Obrist (ed.), Gerhard Richter. The Daily Practice of Painting. Writings and Interviews 1962-1993, Cambridge, MA 1995, p. 124). Though bathed in the glow of familiarity, the present work ultimately casts its subject matter as a distant mirage: vacant, unattainable and unheimlich, as disarming and alien as any of his abstract panoramas. As Robert Storr writes, ‘Those who approach Richter's landscapes with a yearning for the exotic or the pastoral are greeted by images that first intensify that desire and then deflect it’ (R. Storr, Gerhard Richter: Forty Years of Painting, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2002, p. 67).

Wiese testifies to Richter’s changing relationship with photography during this period: a key strain of his practice, as documented in his personal album Atlas. Having dispensed with the medium as a prop for his abstract paintings, he began to revise its usage in his photorealist works. Switching from Kodachrome to Fuji film, his photographs of this period moved away from with the muted atmospheric tones of his earlier seas and skies, replacing them with bright, verdant fields and meadows. Such properties made the resulting paintings all the more unnerving: these were landscapes, after all, that had witnessed the Second World War unfold. As Hubertus Butin has observed, the deliberately unstudied composition of Richter’s own source image – with its unbalanced horizon and unsteady vantage point – adds a further layer of subversion (H. Butin, ‘Romantic Landscapes as “Cuckoo’s Eggs”’, in D. Elger (ed.), Gerhard Richter: Landscapes, Ostfildern 2011, p. 126). By deliberating countering the constructed, dramatic nature of paintings by artists such as Friedrich, Richter expresses a loss of faith in art’s transcendental power. ‘Every beauty that we see in landscape’, he explains, ‘– every enchanting colour effect, or tranquil scene, or powerful atmosphere, every gentle linearity or magnificent spatial depth or whatever is our projection; and we can switch it off at a moment’s notice’ (G. Richter, ‘Notes, 1986’, ibid.). For all its radiance, the present work ultimately represents an expression of this conviction: that art, in the twentieth century, could no longer claim to offer a window onto nature.

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