Painted in 1990, Abstraktes Bild is a colourful and textured painting whose appearance belies its intellectual content. For Abstraktes Bild forms an intrinsic part of Richter's dialogue about the nature of art and the artist. This is especially evident in the process by which Abstraktes Bild was made, which is as deconstructive as it is creative. Richter smears over elements which threaten to appear figurative, and deliberately and clinically disrupts the internal aesthetics of the works. In Abstraktes Bild, the marks of the squeegees are clear on the canvas: Richter has not used the traditional brush, but has instead dragged the paint with the tools of a mere decorator. In this way, he enacts his desire to 'reject this pathetic behavior, this notion of the heroic artist' (Richter, quoted in M. Kimmelman, 'Gerhard Richter: An Artist Beyond Isms', New York Times, 27 January 2002).
Yet alongside this deconstruction of the role and the glory of the artist, alongside this deliberate mockery of the visual language of Action Painting and all the autobiographical venting that it implies, is an inherent love of paint and of colour. Richter paints other types of picture, but for him the Abstracts are a joy, a source of guiltless solace and release in which he plays with paint: 'I need that pleasure' (Richter, quoted in Ibid.). This sense of pleasure is clear in his description of the working process, which combines strategy and deconstruction with the simple and exuberant enjoyment that glows in Abstraktes Bild: 'At the beginning, I feel totally free, and it's fun, like being a child. The paintings can look good for a day or an hour. Over time, they change. In the end, you become like a chess player. It takes me longer than some people to recognize their quality, their situation-- to realize when they are finished. Finally, one day I enter the room and say, 'Checkmate.' Then sometimes I need a break, a quiet job, like a landscape. But I always need to paint abstracts again' (Richter, quoted in Ibid.).