Contemporary Art | New York

Contemporary Art | New York

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 113. Untitled.

Günther Förg


Lot Closed

December 17, 05:13 PM GMT


70,000 - 100,000 USD

Lot Details


Günther Förg

1952 - 2013


signed Förg and dated 23/5/89 (upper left)

watercolor on paper

103 by 58½ in.

261.6 by 130.8 cm.

Executed in 1989.

This work is recorded in the archive of Günther Förg as No. WVF.89.C.0397.We thank Mr. Michael Neff from the Estate of Günther Förg for the information he has kindly provided on this work.

Luhring Augustine, New York

Acquired from the above by the present owner circa 1996

"Retrospectively, the reason for the continued importance of Förg’s oeuvre becomes clear. The evolution of his direct, subjective engagement with the aesthetic of the sublime—conducted without fear of stereotypical taboos—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, Bruce Weber, "Günther Förg, German Artist Who Made Moderism His Theme, Dies at 61," The New York Times, 18 December 2013)

Executed in 1989, Untitled exemplifies Günther Förg’s expert manipulation of color and space, creating stunningly evocative works within the confines of the frame. Sweeping brush strokes balance green and black, splitting the work into two distinct parts. The gentle lines of Förg’s brush see the use of watercolor taken to its most elegant form, with their application running parallel to the black stripe cutting the canvas. Though the space is awash with muted tones, Untitled exudes a stirring energy through the disquieting and chromatically intense interruption of colors. 

Förg’s simple compositional formula, characteristically divided into unequal sections, juxtaposes two powerfully emotive primary hues. Through the dispersion of his chosen elemental colors, the artist evokes the design-considered purism of Piet Mondrian and the De Stijl movement. Distinguishing his aims from predecessors Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko, Förg explained, “Newman and Rothko attempted to rehabilitate in their works a unity and an order that for them had been lost ... For me, abstract art today is what one sees and nothing more.” (G. Förg, quoted in Günther Förg: Painting / Sculpture /Installation, exh. cat., 1989, Newport Beach, p. 6). 

By defining abstraction as an expression among many others, Förg reoriented the dialogue for minimalist art and situated himself amongst the most significant artists of the 20th century. Untitled serves as a definitive example of Förg’s work within the canon of abstraction, bringing to light the evolution of the form and cementing his role in its history.