Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction


Gerhard Richter
B. 1932
signed and dated 1971 on the reverse
oil on canvas
200 by 200cm.; 78 3/4 by 78 3/4 in.
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Dieter Kreutz Collection, Duisburg (acquired directly from the artist in the early 1970s)

Galerie Löhrl, Mönchengladbach

Luhring Augustine Gallery, New York

Private Collection, USA 

MaxmArt, Mendrisio

Private Collection, Switzerland

Sale: Christie’s, New York, Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale, 11 May 2004, Lot 51

Private Collection

Sale: Christie’s, London, Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale, 16 February 2011, Lot 9

Nicolas Berggruen Charitable Trust, New York

David Zwirner, New York

Acquired directly from the above by the present owner 


New York, Luhring Augustine, Gerhard Richter: Selected Works 1963-1987, 1995-96, p. 55 and cover, illustrated in colour

Bolzano, Museion, Gerhard Richter. Malerei-Pittura, 1996, n.p., no. 16, illustrated in colour

Barcelona, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Gerhard Richter: Atlas, 1999

Oslo, Astrup Fearnley Museum, Gerhard Richter: The Art of the Impossible – Paintings 1964-1998, 1999, p. 80, illustrated in colour

Prato, Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Gerhard Richter: Retrospective, 1999-2000, p. 83, illustrated in colour

Lugano, Museo Cantonale d'Arte, L'immagine ritrovata, 2002, p. 53, no. 9, illustrated in colour

Portland, Portland Art Museum, Gerhard Richter: Seven Works, 2012


Exhibition Catalogue, Dusseldorf, Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Gerhard Richter: Arbeiten 1962 bis 1971, 1971, n.p., installation view

Klaus Honnef, 'Gerhard Richter im Kunstverein Dusseldorf', Magazin Kunst, No. 43, 1971, p. 2410, installation view

Exhibition Catalogue, Venice, Venice Biennale, XXXVI Biennale di Venezia: Padiglione Tedesco, 1972, p. 61, no. 290, illustrated

Klaus Honnef, Gerhard Richter, Recklinghausen 1976, p. 43, illustrated in colour

Exhibition Catalogue, Dusseldorf, Städtische Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Gerhard Richter: Bilder/Paintings 1962-1985 (and catalogue raisonné), 1986, p. 129, no. 290, illustrated in colour

Angelika Thill, et. al., Gerhard Richter: Catalogue Raisonné 1962-1993, Vol. III, Ostfildern-Ruit 1993, n.p., no. 290, illustrated in colour

Andrea Bruciati, 'Kiefer e Richter. Frau Apollineo e dionisiaco', Per immagine, Spring 2000, p. 25, illustrated

Exhibition Catalogue, Sakura City, Kawamura Memorial Museum of Art, Gerhard Richter: Atlas, 2001, p. 98, illustrated

Helmut Friedel, Gerhard Richter Red, Yellow, Blue: The BMW Paintings, Munich 2007, p. 41, no. 12, incorrectly illustrated in colour

Carol Vogel. ‘At Art Basel, Lessons From Curators’, International Herald Tribune, 14 June 2013, p. 9, illustrated in colour

Catalogue Note

Delivering a lustrous yet dynamically active painterly surface, Gerhard Richter’s Ausschnitt (Kreutz) belongs to an extremely rare and crucially important corpus of nine works based on photographs of paint details. Executed between the years 1970 and 1971, this decisive series is characterised by fluid chromatic ripples and swirls painted on enveloping supports. Mesmerisingly abstract yet utterly entrenched in the photographic, this brief yet vital body of work played a transformative role in the advancement of Richter’s revolutionary abstract canon. In recognition of this status, four from this series of nine today reside in important museum collections across Germany: Neues Museum, Staatliches Museum für Kunst und Design, Nuremberg; MKM Museum Küppersmühle für Moderne Kunst, Duisburg; Sprengel Museum Hannover and Museum Folkwang, Essen. In the present work, marbled striations of red paint blend into opalescent shades of white to offer amongst the most enticing chromatic and compositional schemas from this exquisite group of paintings. 

For these works, Richter magnified and projected onto canvas detail photographs of stirred paint (Atlas sheet 93). From here he painted the abstract forms captured on camera in monumental proportions of up to 3 metres in length. Spanning an immersive 200 by 200cm and consumed by fluid abstract movement, the present work presents a philosophically complex and revelatory statement on the practice of abstraction in paint. Far from mutually exclusive, in these works photography and painting are revealed by Richter to be inter-dependent practices. Indeed, the effect of Ausschnitt (Kreutz) and its counterparts is abstract without losing any of the photographic core to which Richter had anchored his post-modern painterly practice. Herein, the Details provided the philosophical and theoretical validity through which Richter could first freely approach so-called ‘pure’ painterly abstraction during the late 1970s and beyond. In a letter to the author Bridget Pelzer in 1980, Richter explained: “The detail paintings of 1970/71 are very small details, ca. 1-2cm squared, of palettes or from paintings that through enlargement take on an abstract appearance or uncertain ‘beauty’ as images. In contrast to the modern comic elegance of Lichtenstein’s brush-stroke paintings, the ‘details’ clearly do not reproduce anything but the illusion of a kind of painting… what I like about these paintings is that they are so radically Not-Painting, as only a reproduction could be, insofar as it did not recall an actual image” (Gerhard Richter quoted in: Dietmar Elger, Gerhard Richter: A Life in Painting, Chicago 2009, p. 184). These paintings conjure a plethora of figurative/abstract readings; from macrocosmic ‘rings of Saturn’ and microcosmic biological cells, through to gestural and impassioned painterly abstraction. By reproducing in fine sfumato detail, paint as seen through a macro lens, Richter unearths an illusory paradox that exists between painting and photography.

Transitioning from the grisaille that had dominated the Photo Paintings of the previous decade, the Ausschnitte emerged at a point in which Richter had begun to consider colour seriously for the first time. This was a transition very much affected by the growing influence of artist and fellow alumnus of the Dusseldorf Academy, Blinky Palermo. As described by Richter: “We could really just speak about painting. The main thing was about the surface of colour and the proportion of colour” (Ibid., p. 182). Much like his previous alliances with Sigmar Polke and Konrad Lueg, the nature of this friendship was distinctly collaborative. Throughout 1970-71 – the same period that gave rise to the Ausschnitte – the two artists worked together on a number of projects; indeed it was in their joint exhibition, For Salvador Dalí at Galerie Ernst in Hanover, that Richter exhibited two of the Detail paintings for the first time.

Intriguingly, these works were executed concurrently with the corpus of Cloud Paintings and it is with these that the Details are paired. Once again painted after photographs, Richter’s Clouds offer a natural model for pure abstraction; an equation no less inverted within the Details via their semblance to natural phenomena. Indeed, this precedent would later confer naturally referential titles upon many of Richter’s abstract paintings, such as Rain (1988), Eis (1989) or Forest (1990). Speaking of the latter in 1990 Richter explained: “I want to end up with a picture I haven’t planned. This method of arbitrary choice, chance, inspiration and destruction may produce a specific type of picture, but it never produces a predetermined picture… by not planning the outcome, I hope to achieve the same coherence and objectivity that a random slice of Nature (or Readymade) always possesses” (Gerhard Richter, ‘Notes 1964’ in: Hans Ulrich Obrist, Ed., The Daily Practice of Painting, London 1995, p. 218). As both abstract forms and photorealist paintings, the Details represent the most metamorphic and multidimensional of Richter’s career – significantly, it was this body of work that conceptually furnished and facilitated the artist’s transition into full painterly abstraction in the late 1970s.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction