Sotheby’s (February 3, 2023) – Reminiscent of a landscape, or the strata of a Monet waterlily painting, the horizontal swathes of paint migrate across Abstraktes Bild in wave like-motion across the breadth of the canvas. Texture, colour and structure are here deployed with spectacular force, with the gliding scrape of the squeegee revealing the kaleidoscopic architectural structure of the artist’s underpainting.
It is a masterpiece created during the critical year of 1986, which saw the artist’s first large-scale touring retrospective and was also the year in which Richter first took up the squeegee as his principal compositional tool. He has only ever produced 24 Abstraktes Bild of this magnitude (with a width greater than 380 cm), of which half of these reside in museum collections across the globe.
Gerhard Richter was born in 1932 in Dresden, Germany. Throughout his career, Richter has negotiated the frontier between photography and painting, captivated by the way in which these two seemingly opposing practices speak to and challenge one another. From exuberant canvases rendered with a squeegee and acerbic color charts to paintings of photographic detail and close-ups of a single brushstroke, Richter moves effortlessly between the two mediums, reveling in the complexity of their relationship, while never asserting one above the other.