Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction


Günther Förg
1952 - 2013
signed and dated 02
acrylic on canvas
235 by 195 cm. 92 1/2 by 76 3/4 in.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

This work is recorded in the archive of Günther Förg as No. WVF.02.B.0450. We thank Mr. Michael Neff from the Estate of Günther Förg for the information he has kindly provided on this work.  


Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne
Acquired from the above by the present owner


Cologne, Galerie Gisela Capitain, Günther Förg, December 2002 - February 2003

Catalogue Note

Evoking the same geometric qualities of Abstract Expressionist artists such as Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko, Günther Förg’s Ohne Titel from 2002 is an exemplary demonstration of the German artist’s refashioning of high Modernist aesthetics. Emerging in the early 1970s, after studying at The Academy of Fine Arts Munich, Förg’s paintings reveal a sincerity and purity that went against the grain of Neo-expressionist figuration that was being popularised by his contemporaries Georg Baselitz, Albert Oehlen and Martin Kippenberger in Germany during this period. The formal austerity and poise that is so characteristic of Förg’s oeuvre displays a candour that is poetic in its use of colour and form, the stanza of each painting describing a simple sequence of lines framed by a monochromatic ground. As curator Peter Noever explains, “Förg is an artist who attempts, perhaps more than any other contemporary artist, to break through the barriers of art and to reposition himself mid-way between the two extremes of dispassionate conceptuality and passionate intuition” (Peter Noever, ‘Dispassionate Passion’, in: Exh. Cat., Hanover, Kunstverein Hannover, Günther Förg, 1995, pp. 143-44). In this way, Förg advances the artistic vision of Barnett Newman and Blinky Palermo, presenting abstraction not as a provocative rejection of painterly traditionalism or expressionism, but as an earnest articulation of the most refined form of painting.


Whilst celebrated for his geometric abstraction, Förg’s practice has embraced materiality and medium specificity as an organisational mode, in order to achieve a unity of form through elevating the character and qualities of respective media, including photography and sculpture. The artist’s photography from the 1980s focused on the culturally significant architectures of the Bauhaus and Fascist regimes, utilising the black and white documentary form as a method of engaging more directly with the legacy of the Modernist aesthetic in a postmodern age. His interest in the constructivist vocabulary “oscillates between appropriation and homage, yet Förg does so without any ironic quotations or other such cheap distancing techniques. Instead, he throws mythical ballast overboard and appropriates picture-making strategies in a way that makes them look new” (Andreas Schlaegel cited in: Bruce Weber, ‘Günther Förg, German Artist Who Made Modernism His Theme, Dies at 61’, The New York Times, 18 December 2013, online). By replicating the compositions and palettes of the Colour Field painters, Förg orchestrates a melody of forms that at once quotes his Modernist forebears and channels the rebellious spirit of German painting epitomised by the ‘Junge Wilde’ group of the 1980s.


As part of Förg’s Gitterbilder, started in 1992, the present work illustrates Förg’s exceptionally laconic style, implementing a formal austerity with an undeniably accomplished hand. Presenting a sequence of poetic grids on canvas that evoke the “zip” paintings of Newman and the luminosity of Rothko, Untitled is a quintessential work that typifies Förg’s conceptual project, combining Modernist tropes with superb ease and virtuosity. As art historian and curator Rudi Fuchs has noted, “Förg uses the idiom of geometric abstraction with the same naturalness with which Monet used the lilies in his garden pond: material and forms that happen to be at hand, easily available as the vehicle for aesthetic sensibility, painterly style and vision” (Rudi Fuchs, ‘Abstract, Dialect, Förg’, in: Exh. Cat., Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Günther Förg, 1995, p. 20).

Contemporary Art Day Auction