PAE: $21,331,800-$30,474,000
Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild
Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild, signed, dated 1986 and numbered 599 on the reverse, oil on canvas, 300.5 by 250.5cm.; 118 3/8 by 98 5/8 in. © Images are copyright of their respective owners, assignees or others.

Gerhard Richter (born 1932) is a German painter whose work varies from photorealist painting to abstraction as well as overpainted photographs and glass. Escaping from East to West Germany, two months prior to the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, Richter strayed away from the efforts of his contemporaries (Georg Baselitz) who refused mass culture and photography. Richter did not prefer a continuation of exclusively historic German national identity expressed primarily through figurative painting. Instead he embraced American and British Pop Art, choosing to situate and define national identity through art within a transitive mass media culture. Richter’s early photorealist work from the 60s and 70s, uses pictures found in newspapers and books or from his own collection. He copies these pictures and then blurs the wet paint by dragging a squeegee over the canvas. This blur has become signature of many of Richter’s work to date and his use of the squeegee became a major tool for creating his abstracts. His movement into abstraction can be detected as early as 1962 with a work titled “Table”, but it was not until the late 60s, with works from his “Constellation” and “Grey” series that we clearly recognize a full embrace. The amount of work that he has created throughout his career is staggering, both in quantity and quality. Ranging from beautiful portraits of mothers with children, to landscapes, mountains, clouds, aerials, paintings of newspaper clippings, to colour charts, to candles and skulls, to intensely saturated abstracts, to glass sculpture and stained glass, Richter’s contributions have been defined by a relentless search to discover painting again and again. His work continually refuses to adopt one clear recognizable style. Nearly all of Richter’s work blends the dense, opaque, physical nature of paint with illusionistic space, a contribution to both the history of abstraction and figurative painting. His abstracts have landscape-like depth, and his photo based paintings embrace physical qualities of mark-making that one would more likely associate with abstraction. (see Townscapes 1968-1969). He is one of the pioneers, along with Sigmar Polke, of New European Painting whose influence has extended to Luc Tuymans, Marlene Dumas, Neo Rauch, Michael Borremans and Chris Ofili. Gerhard Richter is represented by Marian Goodman Gallery. He lives and works in Cologne, Germany.

Video: Gerhard Richter in the studio. From Tate.