Gerhard Richter, ‘Abstraktes Bild (454-4)’, 1980, Phillips

Property of an Important European Collector

From the Catalogue:
The visceral surface of Abstraktes Bild (454-4), emerging through layers of dragged paint in varying hues of orange-red and tangerine, contributes to the work’s distinct palimpsest-like quality. Depth is both insinuated and eradicated as the vibrant surface of the picture plane displays the artist’s energetic movements. However, one can be deceived by its seemingly impulsive appearance as Richter himself commented: ‘the whole thing looks very spontaneous. But in between [the layers] there are usually long intervals of time, and those destroy a mood. It is a highly planned kind of spontaneity'. (Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Gerhard Richter, Gerhard Richter: The Daily Practice of Painting. Writings and Interviews 1962-1993, Cambridge MA: MIT Press, London/UK Anthony d'Offay, 1995, p. 112)

Richter’s method for creating this work adopted a technique of building up layers of paint using a method similar to a la prima meaning ‘wet on wet’. By painting sections and then blending the top layers with the undercoat, Richter began not only to explore the levels that could be created through impasto-like application but also to discover the effects that could be developed by adding carnation oil to the painting in order to keep the layers moist throughout the process.
Thus, in Abstraktes Bild (454-4), Richter highlights one of the central paradoxes that lies at the core of his abstract experimentation; the marriage between an Abstract Expressionistic spontaneity and a planned rhythmical structure. The monochromatic works form perhaps the purest expression of Richter’s unique and vastly influential investigation into the nature of painting, and offer an insight into his most piercing of questions – “how painting could be made without treating colour as a compositional element, and how the practice of painting could continue without subjective content.” (M. Godfrey, “Damaged Landscapes”, Gerhard Richter: Panorama, p. 86)
Courtesy of Phillips

Signature: signed, numbered and dated "454/4 Richter, 80" on the reverse. This work is listed in the Richter Catalogue Raisonné under number: 454-4.

Kunsthalle Bielefeld; Mannheimer Kunstverein, Gerhard Richter: Abstract Paintings 1976 to 1981, 10 January – 16 May, 1982

J. Harten et al, Gerhard Richter Bilder / Paintings 1962 - 1985, Düsseldorf, 1986, pp. 391, 392; p. 229 (illustrated)
Gerhard Richter: Paintings, exh. cat., Marian Goodman Gallery/Sperone Westwater, New York, 1987, p. 6
Kunst-und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland ed., Gerhard Richter, Werkübersicht/ Catalogue Raisonné 1962 - 1993 vol. III, Ostfildern-Ruit, 1993, no. 454-4, n.p. (illustrated)
Dietmar Elger, Gerhard Richter Catalogue Raisonné Nos. 389-651-2 Volume 3 1976-1987, Ostfildern, 2013, p. 172 (illustrated)

Galerie Fred Jahn, Munich
Private Collection
Hauser & Wirth, Zurich
Private Collection
Phillips, New York, 15 May 2015, lot 239
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

About Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter is known for a prolific and stylistically varied exploration of the medium of painting, often incorporating and exploring the visual effects of photography. “I like everything that has no style: dictionaries, photographs, nature, myself and my paintings,” he says. “Because style is violent, and I am not violent.” In the early 1960s, Richter began to create large-scale photorealist copies of black-and-white photographs rendered in a range of grays, and innovated a blurred effect (sometimes deemed “photographic impressionism”) in which portions of his compositions appear smeared or softened—paradoxically reproducing photographic effects and revealing his painterly hand. With heavily textured abstract gray monochromes, Richter introduced abstraction into his practice, and he has continued to move freely between figuration and abstraction, producing geometric “Colour Charts”, bold, gestural abstractions, and “Photo Paintings” of anything from nudes, flowers, and cars to landscapes, architecture, and scenes from Nazi history. Richter absorbed a range of influences, from Caspar David Friedrich and Roy Lichtenstein to Art Informel and Fluxus.

German, b. 1932, Dresden, Germany, based in Cologne, Germany