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Abstract Painting (596)
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Abstract Painting (596)
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About the item

Gerhard Richter, Abstract Painting (596)\nSigned, dated 1986 on the reverse of the left panel and numbered 596 on the reverse of each panel\nOil on canvas in two parts\n102 1/2 x 157 1/2 in. 260.4 x 400 cm.
US
NY, US
US

notes

When Gerhard Richter turned to gestural abstract painting in 1976, he did it vigorously and unapologetically in an environment highly mistrustful of expressionist qualities in picture-making. Three decades later, Richter has come to personify the genre of contemporary abstract painting. Grounded on an investigation of figure-ground oppositions and relations, Richter's oeuvre retains an unusual objectivity constantly relating to paintings as illusionistic, mediated experiences. Richter has no patience for the self-referential pictorial autonomy claimed by American Formalist criticism. Instead, he follows the more generally held twentieth-century assumptions about abstract works of art. Specifically, that they are symbolic representations of ideas about reality: "Abstract paintings are fictitious models because they visualize a reality which we can neither see nor describe but which we may nevertheless conclude exists" (Exh. Cat., Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Gerhard Richter Paintings, 1988, p. 107).

Contrary to the perceived impulsiveness conveyed by the gestural quality of its surface, Abstract Painting (596) is derived from a systematic enterprise and is more in tune with the techniques of the old masters than to those of contemporary artists. First, Richter begins by placing a number of primed white canvases around the walls of his studio, eventually working on several or all of them simultaneously. A soft ground of red, yellow, blue, or green is then applied only to be subsequently altered by large strokes:  tracks of color drawn out with a squeegee. The painting then undergoes multiple variations in which each new accretion brings color and textural juxtapositions that are reworked until they are completely harmonized. In turn, the viewer is afforded the opportunity to penetrate the canvas while being absorbed by its vast surface area, a referent to the large scale format of both academic painting and the New York School. Finally, Richter's paintings are finished only when he can do no more, when they exceed him, or they have something that he can no longer keep up with. (Ibid, p. 108) Given their intricate specificity and open-endedness (Richter does not work in a premeditated manner preferring instead to formalize the composition as he concludes it), his works are never executed in one session and each stroke is carefully considered before it is allowed to make an appearance that could seriously deter the overall desired effect. A triumphant act of painting, Abstract Painting (596) epitomizes the mature achievement that is Richter's abstraction.

medium

Oil on canvas in two parts

creator

Gerhard Richter

dimensions

102 1/2 x 157 1/2 in. 260.4 x 400 cm.

literature

Angelika Thill, et. al., Gerhard Richter Catalogue Raisonné: 1962 - 1993, vol. III, Osternfildern-Ruit, 1993, cat. no. 596, illustrated in color

provenance

Mary Boone Gallery, New York

Acquired by the present owner from the above in 1987 


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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