- Gerhard Richter
- Abstraktes Bild
- signed, dated 1992 and numbered 768-2 on the reverse
- oil on canvas
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 1995
London, Anthony d'Offay Gallery, Gerhard Richter: Painting in the Nineties, June - August 1995, pl. 3, n.p., illustrated in color
"There are few artists in the contemporary art world whose work has a presence like that of Gerhard Richter's." Kasper König and Chris Dercon in Ulrich Wilmes, ed., Gerhard Richter; Large Abstracts, Cologne and Munich, 2009.
"Chance is given; unpredictable; chaotic; the basis. And we try to control that by intervening, giving form to chance, putting it to use."
The artist in: 'I Have Nothing to Say and I'm Saying It: Conversation between Gerhard Richter and Nicolas Serota, Spring 2011' in: Exh. Cat., London, Tate Modern, Gerhard Richter: Panorama, 2011, p. 27.
The Abstraktes Bild numbered 768-2 and executed by Gerhard Richter in 1992 represents a total aggregation of this Contemporary master's pioneering work in the field of abstraction and affords a truly sublime experience to the viewer. It is a breathtaking masterwork of Richter's epic, eponymous cycle, which is recognized as perhaps the preeminent venture in the course of abstract art of the last thirty years. Broadcasting a simply awe-inspiring spectrum of hue - dominated by fiery reds but also evincing intense shades of the other primaries blue and yellow - which is impossible to capture fully in mere reproduction, this is a paradigm of the artist's most arresting and seductive art of painting. It functions on a monumental scale to envelop the viewer entirely and irresistibly into its chromatic expanse. Fundamentally non-representational, this work offers an interaction to the viewer that is almost unearthly, emanating a shimmering fluidity of color that rushes towards our eye. Richter's intense manipulation of the surface conjures a sensation of infinite paint layering. As the artist stated in conversation with Nicholas Serota for the recent retrospective: "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." (the artist in: 'I Have Nothing to Say and I'm Saying It: Conversation between Gerhard Richter and Nicholas Serota, Spring 2011' Exh. Cat., London, Tate Modern, Gerhard Richter: Panorama, 2011, p. 19).
Abstraktes Bild is not only certainly the most visually resplendent and vibrant of the 768 cycle, but is also among the most resolved and immediately brilliant of the large abstracts that Richter produced around this pivotal time. The particularly striking aesthetics of Abstraktes Bild were produced at the height of Richter's technical development. The execution of this work immediately followed the Abstraktes Bild numbered 768-1, which belongs to the Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden. It's creation also anticipated the sublime Abstraktes Bilder that followed in 1992, examples of which are held in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art as part of the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection, as well as the Hamburger Kunsthalle and the Kunstmuseum Winterthur. Richter's expert practical ability, most notably a remarkable proficiency when employing his chosen utensils to manipulate the thick layers of oils, is combined with an intellectual sophistication. The result is an exquisite painting that embodies the fully mature aesthetic of the artist's abstract vision and is consequently an imperative work in his oeuvre.
Gerhard Richter's artistic contribution is internationally considered within the highest tier of this era; his inimitably diverse canon evidencing more than five decades of philosophical enquiry into the core natures of perception and cognition. Indeed, with its poignant critical reflections and groundbreaking advancements, it is undeniable that his output has opened up a wealth of possibilities for the future course of Art History. Since the early 1960s he has considered all genres of painting, delving into and pushing the boundaries of theoretical and aesthetic levels of understanding whilst exploring and challenging the fundamentals of their development. However, his odyssey into the realm of abstract painting is often regarded as the culmination of his artistic and conceptual enquiry into the foundations of visual understanding. After decades of exploring the role of painting in relation to competing visual cultures; film and photography; and even painting itself, the emergence of the Abstraktes Bild stands as the crowning achievement of his oeuvre. As Benjamin H. D. Buchloh highlighted, and as there can be absolutely no doubt, Richter's position within the canon of abstraction is one of "incontrovertible centrality." (Exh. Cat., Cologne, Museum Ludwig and Munich, Haus der Kunst, Gerhard Richter Large Abstracts, 2009, p. 9).
Abstraktes Bild is an exquisite demonstration of Richter's employment of the squeegee which, since the late 1980s has been his principal tool with which to execute the abstract paintings. The implement facilitated his desire to introduce spontaneity and chance into his creative approach, as the artist stated himself: "It is a good technique for switching off thinking" for "Letting a thing come rather than creating it" (Ibid.) As Gregor Stemmrich has commented, the movements of the squeegee "seem strangely empty, since they behave visibly indifferently to what they uncover, pull along, wipe, and cause to emerge." (Exh. Cat., Cologne, Museum Ludwig and Munich, Haus der Kunst, Gerhard Richter Large Abstracts, 2009, p. 31). Although the title Abstraktes Bild is typically translated as 'Abstract Painting', the curator Robert Storr restores the meaning of Bild as 'picture', implying something beyond mere painting, and that, as such, "reinforces the impression...of shoals, riptides, and cresting waves amid the paintings' scraped and layered pigments." (Dietmar Elger, Gerhard Richter: A Life in Painting, Cologne 2002, p. XIII). The marks that Richter creates in his abstract works have no representational function, and according to the artist, these paintings are a matter of "sheer necessity" because they speak of the real, of the present - and therefore possess a transcendental quality (Ibid.)