LONDON – Having once resided in Gerhard Richter’s own collection, Abstraktes Bild is a masterpiece of this celebrated body of abstract paintings.
From the five-part series of monumental abstract paintings designated 725 in Richter’s catalogue raisonné – of which two are held in museum collections – this work possesses the powerful chromatic layers and blurred accretions of Richter’s archetypal tool, the squeegee. Extolling a glacial beauty Abstraktes Bild strongly calls to mind the four-part series, Eis from 1989, now housed in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.
GERHARD RICHTER, ABSTRAKTES BILD, 1990. ESTIMATE: £14,000,000–20,000,000. TO BE OFFERED IN SOTHEBY’S
CONTEMPORARY ART EVENING AUCTION IN LONDON ON 10 FEBRUARY.
That more than half of the monumental abstract paintings executed between 1989 and 1990 are housed in museum collections is a testament to the virtuosic calibre of Richter’s work during these decisive years. The Abstrakte Bilder compress an entire history of painting within their stratas of paint. Grounded in photo-realism they traverse Minimalism and anti-painting, and counter the heroic breakthrough of Abstract Expressionism, and no painting does this more spectacularly than this work. Abstraktes Bild embodies Richter’s essential artistic directive: to unpick and reformulate historical modes of painterly expression in order to establish new relevance for painting in the present.
Emma Baker is Deputy Director of Contemporary Art, Sotheby’s London.