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Abstract and Figurative works by Gerhard Richter to feature in Sotheby's Contemporary Art Evening Sale
Gerhard Richter (b. 1932), I. G. signed, dated 1993, and numbered 790-4 on the reverse, 28⅜ x 40⅛ in. 72 x 102 cm. Oil on canvas. Est. $3/4 million.

NEW YORK, NY.- Following the remarkable price of $32.2 million (£21.3 million) achieved for Abstraktes Bild (809-4) last Friday evening at Sotheby’s London, which established the world record for a work by Gerhard Richter, as well as a new benchmark for the work of any living artist at auction, Sotheby’s announced the sale of one of the most elegant and fully resolved abstractions by the artist ever to appear at auction. Abstraktes Bild (712) from 1990 was painted at a crucial moment in the artist’s career and epitomizes his mastery of the art of abstraction (est. in excess of $16 million*). The Abstraktes Bild paintings are conceived through an extensive, time-consuming and labor intensive process in which the introduction of “chance” produces a calculated and magnificent chaos of color and structure. Since 1960 Richter has produced an astonishingly diverse range of paintings including a number devoted to exploring the role of painting in relation to other visual cultures such as photography. In addition to Abstraktes Bild, two photorealist portraits of the artist’s then wife, Isa Genzken, entitled I.G. (ests. $3/4 million each) will also be offered in Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale on 13 November 2012 in New York.

Abstraktes Bild is numbered as the first painting of 1990 - the chronological apex of the 1988 – 1992 period in which the monumental abstractions reached new heights. The paint flows laterally across the canvas with red, yellow and blue simultaneously concealed and revealed against the dominant silvery grey to create an intensely beautiful chromatic expanse. At over 100 inches tall, the scale of the Abstraktes Bild is exceptional. It is one of only eight paintings created in 1990 to exceed two and a half meters in height, with the others today housed in prestigious collections including Tate, the Böckmann Collection, Berlin at Kunsthalle Hamburg and The Doris and Donald Fisher Collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Abstraktes Bild is a testament to Richter’s ceaseless technical explorations in the field of abstraction and his investigation to the nature of images and perception. Throughout the series, tracts of color are dragged across the surface of the work using a long hard-edged spatula ‘squeegee’ that fuses and smudges the pigment first onto the canvas and then on top of the previous layers of paint as they accumulate. The result immerses the viewer in movement as if looking at a natural phenomenon such as the sea or sky.

Highlighting the diversity of his output are two Richter works from 1993. The two paintings are both entitled I.G. and depict the painter’s then wife, the artist Isa Genzken (ests. $3/4 million each). Coming just three years after Abstraktes Bild, the two portraits explore the ambiguity in the interaction between photography and painting. Painted towards the end of the artist’s marriage, in one canvas we see Isa’s head lowered and her left hand stretched out as if she is pushing something outside the frame. In the other, her arms hang down and her head is tilted slightly indicating imminent movement. With her back turned toward the viewer and the painter, I. G. can be seen as an ominous coda to their marriage, an inevitable escape or Richter’s failed last attempt to hold her back.

*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium

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