Excavating the Sublime in Gerhard Richter's Abstraktes Bild


Painted in 1986 at the apex of a career-breakthrough, Absktraktes Bild (596) is a work of immersive chromatic impact, astounding proportions, and complex compositional power. Across two expansive canvases that seamlessly blend into one compositional whole, Abstraktes Bild delivers a panorama of abstract colour that presents a sparring of opposites within dramatic pictorial space. In a theatrical play of primary and secondary colour - in which chaos is balanced with control - abstraction gives way to the inference of figuration: veils of red pigment both conceal and reveal a photo-realistic underlayer, whilst in the left panel sweeping waves of blue-green and purple conjure landscape associations reminiscent of Monet’s panoramic waterlily paintings at the Musée de l’orangerie.

In this video Lucius Elliott, Sotheby’s Head of the Now Evening Auction, dives into the bold colors and textures created in Abstrakes Bild which will be auctioned on 15 November 2023.

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