Lot 6
  • 6


2,500,000 - 3,500,000 GBP
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  • Gerhard Richter
  • Wind
  • signed, dated 1982 and numbered 506 on the reverse
  • oil on canvas
  • 150 by 120 cm. 59 by 47 1/4 in.


Galleria Lucio Amelio, Naples Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1983


Stuttgart, Galerie Max-Ulrich Hetzler, Gerhard Richter: Neue Bilder, November - December 1982 Naples, Galleria Lucio Amelio, Gerhard Richter, March 1983


Exh. Cat. (and catalogue raisonné), Düsseldorf, Städtische Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (and travelling), Gerhard Richter: Bilder 1962-1985, January - September 1986, p. 396, no. 506 (text) Exh. Cat. (and catalogue raisonné), Bonn, Kunst-und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Gerhard Richter: 1962-1993, December 1993 - February 1994, p. 174, no. 506 (text)

Dietmar Elger, Ed., Gerhard Richter: Catalogue Raisonné 1976-1987, Vol. III, Ostfildern 2013, p. 294, no. 506 (text)


Colour: The colour in the catalogue illustration is fairly accurate, although the overall tonality is brighter and more vibrant in the original. Condition: Please refer to the department for a professional condition report.
"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

Wind is an exceptional abstract work from an important phase of Gerhard Richter’s career that has been in the same private collection for 25 years. It is an essay in colour; a perfect exemplar of the artist’s ability to variegate texture, timbre, tone, and hue in order to create paintings of stunning quality and astounding complexity. As with some of Richter’s most famous abstract paintings of the 1980s, the present work is not designated with the artist’s generic Abstraktes Bild title and is instead given a specific name – Wind – which translates directly between German and English. Indeed, the strong sense of lateral pull across this work, articulated through pinks and blues, is entirely redolent of a breeze gusting upwards across the canvas from left to right. As Richter explains: “We only find paintings interesting because we always search for something that looks familiar to us. I see something and in my head I compare it and try to find out what it relates to. And usually we do find those similarities and name them… When we don’t find anything, we are frustrated and that keeps us excited and interested” (Gerhard Richter in conversation with Robert Storr, in: Exh. Cat., New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Gerhard Richter: Forty Years of Painting, 2002, p. 304). Hailing from 1982, this work also marks an important ontological milestone in Richter’s oeuvre, charting the journey of his praxis from photorealist exactitude into abstract splendour. In the first two decades of his mature practice Richter had established an unimpeachable reputation as a photorealist painter of utmost skill. It was only between 1980 and 1987, during which time the present work was created, that he focused his energies on the creation of a vibrant corpus of works that radically reconfigured the aesthetic capacities of abstract painting. This shift in depictive styles ran in direct opposition to the contemporaneous popular art discourse, which had been dominated by Pop art and Minimalism while Richter was preoccupied with precise figuration, and which moved towards the kind of aesthetically aggressive figurative painting propagated by artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Georg Baselitz in the early 1980s whilst Richter focused on abstraction. Thus, at each stage of his career Richter was able to carve out his own critical space and assert his own aesthetic identity. Richter’s abstract works from the 1980s and beyond cannot be seen as a reprisal of any previously established mode of artistic communication. Particularly when compared to the wild and immediate mark-making of his Neo-Expressionist contemporaries, the mode of depiction propagated in works such as Wind denotes his peerlessly methodical inquiry into the absolute limits of abstraction in the painted arts.

Richter’s genius lies in his unique ability to contrast alternate painterly modes and tonalities. In the present work, geometric fields of vivid pigment are juxtaposed with paroxysmal yet purposeful marks, and blurred gradation is met with scraped veils of diaphanous colour, resulting in a canvas rife with limitless magnetism and supreme power. Executed on the cusp of his full espousal of the squeegee as a decisive painterly tool, the present work recounts Richter’s movement away from experimentation with anti-painting – as defined by the Farben (Colour Charts) and Grau (Grey Paintings) – and instead explores the phenomenological limits of colour by indulging in a vibrantly energetic abstract compositional mode. Evocative of colour theories that Neo-Impressionists such as Georges Seurat and Paul Signac utilised to create vibrating painted surfaces, the continually varied tonality and intensely numerous variations of contrasting hues within each millimetre of the canvas create an intensely unstable perceptive field. Richter’s surrender to the laws of chance also allowed for abrupt disruptions to otherwise flowing transitions of colour – in this case outbreaks of violent monochrome red and canary yellow. Thus a new sense of layered depth is instilled by the inherent incongruity of the contrasting colours that are layered over one another. Like feedback interruptions to radio signals these momentary blips to the visual field conjure uniquely enigmatic presences that shatter confidence in our own perceptive capacities. In the present work, Richter achieves transparency and opacity, solidity and depth, in a stimulating ocular space that is both physical and cerebral.