After decades of conceptual enquiry into the very nature of perception and cognition, experimenting with modes of mechanical reproduction and their representation, Grün-Blau-Rot is part of a series of one hundred and fifteen works on canvas which all have the same format and choice of oil-based pigments, but differ in the chance accretions created by the squeegee. With its paint consistency flitting between impasto and transparency on its horizontal axis, and the glossy sweeps of rich, jewel-like pigment, it comes as no surprise that of the many paintings created for Richter’s Grün-Blau-Rot almost obsessive experiment, the current lot sits comfortably at its aesthetic apex, being the only one chosen to represent them all in the artist’s catalogue raisonné.
The exclusive use of primary colours and the mechanical, arbitrary mode of execution beautifully epitomises Richter extraordinary bridging of the two apparently dichotomous realms that are abstraction and figuration, achieved with a re-invention of the traditional mode of painting through photography. Evident in the present painting’s title and choice of primaries, immediately bringing to mind the ‘RGB’ (red, green and blue) colour model – through which the three main light wavelengths merge to create images in analogue photography, this work perfectly embodies Richter’s declaration: “I’m not trying to imitate a photograph, I’m trying to make one. And if I disregard the assumption that a photograph is a piece of paper exposed to light, then I am practicing photography by other means. Those of my paintings that have no photographic source (e.g. the abstracts) are also photographs” (the artist quoted in Katja Silverman, Flesh of my Flesh, California 2009, p. 173).
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