Lot 17
  • 17

Gerhard Richter

1,800,000 - 2,500,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Gerhard Richter
  • Dschungelbild
  • signed, dated 1971 and numbered 312 on the reverse
  • oil on canvas
  • 200 by 200cm.; 79 by 79in.


Galerie Heiner Friedrich, Munich

Galerie Friedrich und Kunst, Munich

Prinz Franz von Bayern, Munich

Gesellschaft der Freunde der Ausstellungsleitung des Hauses der Künste, Munich

Sale: Neumeister Kunstauktionen, Munich, Sonderauktion: Kunst des 20. Jahrhundert, 9 October 2006, Lot 82

Acquired directly from the above by the previous owner


Venice, Venice Biennale, XXXVI Biennale di Venezia: Padiglione Tedesco, 1972, pp. 69 and 98, no. 312, illustrated (incorrectly titled)

Lucerne, Kunstmuseum Luzern, Gerhard Richter, 1973

Munich, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Gerhard Richter, 1973, n.p., no. 2, illustrated

Munich, Staatsgalerie moderner Kunst, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Deutsche Kunst seit 1960: Sammlung Prinz Franz von Bayern, 1985, n.p., no. 192, illustrated in colour


Anon., Deutsche Kunst der Gegenwart in öffentlichen Sammlungen: Jahrbuch der Neuerwerbungen 1981, Berlin 1983, p. 249, illustrated

Jürgen Harten, Ed., Gerhard Richter: Bilder 1962-1985, Cologne 1986, p. 137, no. 312, illustrated (incorrectly titled)

Benjamin Buchloh, et al., Gerhard Richter: Catalogue Raisonné 1962-1993, Vol. III, Ostfildern-Ruit 1993, n.p., no. 312, illustrated in colour

Kai-Uwe Hemken, Gerhard Richter: 18. Oktober 1977, Eine Kunst-Monographie, Frankfurt 1998, pp. 58-59 (text) 

Guy Tosatto, 'Gerhard Richter: Le Sentiment d'avoir approché quelque chose de la realité des apparences', Ninety, No. 29, 1998, p. 15, illustrated

Exhibition Catalogue, Dusseldorf, K20 Kunstammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Gerhard Richter, 2005, p. 49, illustrated in colour 

Julia Friedrich, Grau ohne Grund: Gerhard Richters Monochromien als Herausforderung der Künstlerischen Avantgarde, Cologne 2009, pp. 115-16 (text) 


Colour: The colour in the catalogue illustration is fairly accurate, although the overall tonality is deeper and richer in the original. Condition: This work is in very good condition. Close inspection reveals minor wear to all four corners and in places intermittently along the extreme edges. Very close inspection reveals a minute loss on the overturn edge towards the bottom right corner. No restoration is apparent when examined under ultra-violet light.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

A work with a distinguished provenance having once been held in the illustrious collection of Prinz Franz von Bayern, Gerhard Richter’s Dschungelbild is an early and experimental example of the artist’s famed landscape paintings. Composed of energetic troughs, peaks, twists and great sweeps of verdant pigment to create a thicket of trees bathed in the rosy glow of twilight, the present work reveals the artist’s aesthetic investigation into the tradition of oil on canvas to superb effect. Dating from 1971, the present work perfectly exemplifies the artist's conceptual shift to probing the possibility of painting at a moment when the medium was sidelined in favour of alternate more technological means of expression, and illustrates the artist’s enduring investigation into the canonised polarity of abstraction and figuration. The year after Dschungelbild was created, it was selected for Richter's pavilion at the Venice Biennale alongside six of the ten works that comprise this small series depicting furiously abstracted yet luscious vegetation. Exceptionally rare and singular in its compositional structure, Dschungelbild is one of the fullest and most chromatically resplendent musings in its sequence, of which two others are held in the prestigious institutional collections of the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig (MuMoK), Vienna and Museum Küppersmühle für Moderne Kunst (MKM), Duisburg.

The late 1960s in Germany posed manifold problems for Richter; it was a time when painting was eschewed in favour of other media such as performance art, film, video and photo-text pieces. In the events that came to shape contemporary artistic discussion, such as Konrad Fischer’s forward-thinking series of exhibitions entitled Propsect, painting was more or less relegated to obsolescence; indeed, in famed curator Harald Szeeman’s influential survey When Attitudes Become Form the medium was omitted entirely. Confronted with this the majority of German painters turned to pastiche and satire: Sigmar Polke summarised the language of abstraction to a corpus of quotable marks in his 1968 work Moderne Kunst, and two years previously Jörg Immendorf scrawled the words Hört auf zu malen! (Give up painting!) across the surface of one of his most radical pieces. Despite this, Richter continued to exhibit paintings, garnering exceptional critical acclaim with decisive institutional exhibitions in both Aachen and Dusseldorf. Speaking of this formative moment Richter recalls, "I just went on painting. But I clearly remember that this anti-painting mood did exist. At the end of the 1960s the art scene underwent its great politicisation. Painting was taboo, because it had no 'social relevance' and was therefore a bourgeois thing” (Gerhard Richter quoted in: Dietmar Elger, A Life in Painting, Cologne 2002, p. 153). It was a time that Klaus Honnef referred to as “the break in style as a stylistic principle” (Klaus Honnef quoted in: Exhibition Catalogue, Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Gerhard Richter: Paintings, 1988, p. 74).

From the mid-1960s, therefore, Richter became increasingly determined to pursue painting and extend his critical scrutiny of the medium beyond the corpus of black and white Photo Paintings that had already achieved recognition. Seeking to continue painting yet without the stimulus of a photographic source, it was the revelation of an artist’s colour chart in 1966 that was to provide the impetus he needed, resulting in the introduction of new geometrical forms and variations of colour into his works. The colour charts, in discourse with the whole anti-painting movement, afforded Richter an entirely novel way of eliminating the subjective forces of choice and introduced a more objective approach to the medium. The sheer variety of painting styles that ensued is truly astounding; not only did he continue to produce Photo Paintings taken from objective photographs, as well as the immense Colour Charts, but he also began his career-long enquiry into the traditional genre of landscape.

The wild and untamed nature depicted in Richter's paintings is somewhat reflected in the artist's painting process and bravura facture: at once frenetic, loose and abstracting. For example, in Alpen, 1968, MKM Museum, Duisburg, snow-capped mountain peaks descend into a chaos of brushwork; similarly, when we approach the present work, the crepuscular scene collapses into a flurry of masterfully applied green and pink brushstrokes. In using such a method, Dschungelbild represents something of a chromatic injection in the painterly trajectory between the early Grau works and the celebrated trichromatic Rot Blau Gelb pieces, yet is still firmly anchored in the realms of representation.

When asked in 1970 why he had moved away from his earlier black and white paintings, Richter explained that he was finding that “black and white was starting to get too aesthetic”. When prompted why he chose the colour infused landscapes in particular, he responded: “Just because landscape is beautiful. It’s probably the most terrific thing there is” (Gerhard Richter in conversation with Rolf-Gunter Dienst in: Dietmar Elger and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Eds., Gerhard Richter: Text, Writings, Interviews and Letters 1961-2007, London 2009, p. 56). Whilst other German artists in the 1960s and 70s were arguing for the continuation of German Romanticism, as Richter demonstrates here he was invoking the “terrific” landscapes of Caspar David Friedrich to precisely highlight the caesura of a century rather than the Romantic genre's continuation. Certainly, with its almost floral colour scheme and tactile application of paint, Dschungelbild captures all the wondrous beauty of Friedrich in a wholly unprecedented and deceptively subversive manner.