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Gerhard Richter (b. 1932)
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About the item

Gerhard Richter (b. 1932)\nWaldstück (Chile) (Forest Piece (Chile))\nsigned, titled, dated and numbered 'Waldstück (Chile) III Richter 69 216/3' (on the reverse)\noil on canvas\n68½ x 48 7/8in. (174 x 124cm.)\nPainted in 1969
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notes

‘As in other photo painting by Richter, the subject in Waldstück (Okinawa), 1969, and Waldstück (Chile), 1969 is blurred and the pictures are kept entirely in grey shade, which makes them stand out from other landscape paintings. Besides being a section of exotic landscape- they also offer the potential for an encounter between landscape and history. Okinawa and Chile have both been historical flashpoints in the twentieth century... one senses a kind of unrest in the quiet deep forest pieces, into which our gaze can penetrate no deeper. They remain the grey-shade pictures, at a deliberate distance from their own secrets’ (B. Corà, Gerhard Richter, exh. cat., Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Prato, Italy, 1999, p. 69).

‘My landscapes are not only beautiful or nostalgic, with a Romantic or classical suggestions of lost Paradises, but above all ‘untruthful’ (even if I did not always find a way of showing it); and by untruthful I mean glorifying the way we look at Nature – Nature, which in all its forms is always against us, because it knows no meaning, no pity, no sympathy, because it knows nothing and is absolutely mindless; the total antithesis of ourselves, absolutely inhuman’ (G. Richter, quoted in D. Elgar, Gerhard Richter: Landscapes, Hanover 2002, p. 30).

‘All that interests me is the grey areas, the passages and tonal sequences, the pictorial spaces, overlaps and interlockings. If I had any way of abandoning the object as the bearer of this structure, I would immediately start painting abstracts’ (G. Richter, ‘Notes 1964–65’, in D. Elger and H. Ulrich Obrist (eds.), Gerhard Richter, TEXT: Writings, Interviews and Letters 1961–2007, London 2009, p. 37).

Towering above the viewer, Waldstück (Chile) is one of Gerhard Richter’s three large-scale paintings capturing the heart of the Chilean rainforest. Dissolving in and out of focus, the blurred edges invoke an atmospheric haze of humidity, pushing the composition to the edge of abstraction. Taking the exotic tropical forest as its subject matter, Waldstück (Chile) captures the dramatic forest flora and the shadowy canopy in striking relief. Viewed up close the landscape appears in soft focus, the monochromatic palette melting in some imaginary heat. Hovering on the cusp of figuration and abstraction, the work offers an air of mystery of a metaphorical place unknown. Richter’s handling of the paint produces a slippage of the landscape - the fluid properties of his medium, conjuring up the source of this enigmatic landscape. The shimmering surface of the canvas appears wet, glassy, as if touched by the verdant jungle and heady tropical humidity. Layering washes of grayscale to portray the hazy sunlight dancing off the palm fronds, smooth brush strokes create a windswept haze radiating around the branches. In this work, Richter has masterfully translated onto canvas the air and atmosphere of wild nature. Painted in 1969, this work dates from a breakthrough moment in Richter’s career coinciding with his first New York exhibition at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Previously part of the prestigious Onnasch collection, this work has remained in the same hands for nearly forty years. Alongside Waldstück (Okinawa), 1969, which depicts the southern Japanese jungle, this small series of forest paintings from 1969 are remarkable in Richter’s oeuvre, distinguished by the use of a subtle grisaille palette to capture the landscape. A companion work, Waldstück (Chile) 216-2 is held in the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark.

At first glance, the painting shines with a shimmering natural beauty but the intended distortion of the landscape lends the painting a certain unease and disquietude. However, on closer inspection the illusion is shattered by the knowledge of the dark period in Chilean history. As the curator Bruno Corà has described, ‘As in other photo painting by Richter, the subject in Waldstück (Okinawa), 1969, and Waldstück (Chile), 1969 is blurred and the pictures are kept entirely in grey shade, which makes them stand out from other landscape paintings. Besides being a section of exotic landscape- they also offer the potential for an encounter between landscape and history. Okinawa and Chile have both been historical flashpoints in the twentieth century... one senses a kind of unrest in the quiet deep forest pieces, into which our gaze can penetrate no deeper. They remain the grey-shade pictures, at a deliberate distance from their own secrets. (B. Corà, Gerhard Richter, exh. cat., Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Prato, Italy, 1999 , p. 69).

In 1969, Richter embarked on an experimental series of landscapes. Varying in scenery and painting techniques, the first were loose painterly exploration of aerial photographs of cities and townscapes, then mountain landscapes and park scenes with their hard-edge textured paint surfaces. In the month leading to the creation of Waldstück (Chile), Richter created a series of luminous cloud and seascapes with soft edges and pastel colouration, which set the stage for the artist’s burgeoning interest in and criticism of the romantic landscape. As the artist explained, ‘my landscapes are not only beautiful or nostalgic, with a Romantic or classical suggestions of lost Paradises, but above all ‘untruthful’ (even if I did not always find a way of showing it); and by untruthful I mean glorifying the way we look at Nature – Nature, which in all its forms is always against us, because it knows no meaning, no pity, no sympathy, because it knows nothing and is absolutely mindless; the total antithesis of ourselves, absolutely inhuman’ (G. Richter, quoted in D. Elgar, Gerhard Richter: Landscapes, Hanover 2002, p. 30).

Distinguishable by their grayscale palette and blurred renderings, the Waldstück paintings of 1969 remain some of the most radical and abstracted landscapes of this time. Blurring the edges of trees and casting the lush verdant jungle in cool shades of grey, the composition balances on the knife-edge of figuration and abstraction. The atmospheric tonal shading and variegated facture here allude to the literal depiction of tree trunks and palm fronds. They also serve to inform the later vertical ribbons in the Wald series of abstracts dating from the 1990s and 2000s, as well as the dramatic tonal contrasts of his overpainted photograph of a forest in 2008.

With the skillful manipulation of his brush, Richter achieves a blurred image that moves in and out of focus, constantly shifting between its photographic source and painterly depiction. The ‘blur’ instilled by the artist with the light touch of a soft brush indeed acts as a counterpoint to sweep of a squeegee which would define list later abstract works. Richter hereby introduces a strange figurative ambiguity that highlights the fact that this is a painting, not a photograph. Meaning has been disintegrated: ‘All that interests me is the grey areas, the passages and tonal sequences, the pictorial spaces, overlaps and interlockings. If I had any way of abandoning the object as the bearer of this structure, I would immediately start painting abstracts’ (G. Richter, ‘Notes 1964–65’, in D. Elger and H. Ulrich Obrist (eds.), Gerhard Richter, TEXT: Writings, Interviews and Letters 1961–2007, London 2009, p. 37). Deliberately blurring the image, the painting then becomes a conceptual exercise, exposing and questioning our perception of nature, our romantic ideology and the way in which we see the world. As the artist explained, ‘if my Abstract paintings show my reality, then the landscapes and still-lives show my yearning... though these pictures are motivated by the dream of classical order and a pristine world- by nostalgia in other words – the anachronism in them takes on a subversive and contemporary quality’ (G. Richter, quoted in A. Zweite (ed.), Gerhard Richter: Catalogue Raisonné 1993 -2004, Dusseldorf 2005, p. 33).

title

Gerhard Richter (b. 1932)

medium

Oil on canvas

prelot

THE PROPERTY OF A DISTINGUISHED GERMAN COLLECTOR

signed

Signed, titled, dated and numbered 'Waldstück (Chile) III Richter 69 216/3' (on the reverse)

creator

Gerhard Richter

keywords

Gerhard Richter , 1960s, Paintings, oil, Germany, Post War, landscape

exhibited

Aachen, Zentrum für aktuelle Kunst – Gegenverkehr, Gerhard Richter, 1969.

Lucerne, Kunstmuseum Luzern, Du¨sseldorfer Szene, 1969, p. 5, no. 56.

Berlin, Haus am Waldsee Berlin, Der Diskurs findet hier statt. 50 Jahre Haus am waldsee, 1996.

Hanover, Sprengel Museum Hanover, Gerhard Richter, Landscapes, 1998–1999, pp. 42 and 123 (illustrated, p .43).

department

POST-WAR & CONTEMPORARY ART

dimensions

68½ x 48 7/8in. (174 x 124cm.)

literature

XXXVI Biennale Internationale dell'Arte, German Pavilion, exh. cat., Venice 1972, p. 41, incorrectly no. 216/2 (illustrated, p. 68).

J. Harten (ed.) and D. Elger, Gerhard Richter: Bilder 1962-1985, exh. cat., Dusseldorf, Städtische Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, 1986, p. 73, no. 216/3 (illustrated, p. 94).

Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (ed.), Gerhard Richter, Werkübersicht/Catalogue Raisonné: 1962-1993, vol. III, Ostfildern-Ruit 1993, p. 157, no. 216-3 (illustrated, p. 33).

S. Kunz, 'Nostalgie, gebrochen durch Abstraktion' in Art. Das Kunstmagazin, October 1998 (illustrated in colour, p. 88).

B. Corà, B. Bulchloh, J.F. Chevrier and I. Moscati, Gerhard Richter, exh. cat., Prato, Centro per l'arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci, 1999-2000, pp. 18 and 31.

provenance

Galerie Rudolf Zwirner, Cologne.

Reinhard Onnasch, Berlin.

Acquired from the above by the present owner circa 1970s.

special_notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.


*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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