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Important Work by Gerhard Richter from the Weserburg Museum to Be Offered by Sotheby's
Gerhard Richter, Matrosen (Sailors), 1966. Photo: Sotheby's.

LONDON.- An important painting by Gerhard Richter from 1966, Matrosen (Sailors), will be among the highlights of Sotheby’s Contemporary evening sale in New York, to be held on 9 November 2010.The painting is being offered on behalf of the Weserburg | Museum für moderne Kunst in Bremen, Germany and is estimated to bring $6/8 million. Matrosen (Sailors) will be shown at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong and London before returning to New York for exhibition and sale. The Museum will also sell Franz Gertsch’s Portrait of Luciano, from 1975-76 within the next year. Works by the Swiss photorealist artist are exceedingly rare and the present work is the most important work ever to appear at auction.

The Director of the Weserburg | Museum für moderne Kunst, Carsten Ahrens, held a press conference in Bremen, Germany today to announce plans for the future of the Museum. Joined by Carmen Emigholz, secretary for cultural affairs of the city of Bremen, Prof. Dr. Reinhard Hoffmann, chairman of the Board of the Weserburg Foundation and Prof. Dr. Wulf Herzogenrath, Director of the Kunsthalle Bremen at the conference, which took place in the Weserburg | Museum für moderne Kunst, Mr. Ahrens said: “Our wonderful museum was established in 1991, as a venue for the exhibitions of important private collections, which was at the time an absolute novelty in Europe. Over the ensuing years, however, as we received works as gifts and also acquired works, we moved beyond our original mission, holding exhibitions of separate works unrelated to the private collections. With our twentieth anniversary approaching next year, The Board and I felt it was time to review our mission, to examine the current state of the museum and to consider the best path forward. We have unanimously decided to return to our origins and to focus on the exhibition of private collections.”

Mr. Ahrens continued: “As one result, we have decided to sell two works with Sotheby’s, which will allow us to secure the future of the Weserburg Museum für moderne Kunst. We are gratified that the benefactor, who had so generously donated these works to us in 2004, agreed with our plans. With the exception of these two works, all the other works of the former Roselius-Foundation (51 works, among them works by Schumacher, Uecker, Piene, Mack, Opalka) remain in Bremen at the Kunsthalle Bremen, thanks to the generous support of the Karin and Uwe Hollweg Stiftung”.

Painted in 1966, Gerhard Richter’s masterful Matrosen (Sailors) represents the apogee of his legendary ‘Photopaintings’ of the 1960s, and is in the highest tier of this venerated artist’s works ever to be offered at auction. Extending a vast two meters across (6 ft), Matrosen is among the very largest paintings of this period that Richter executed and precisely summates his cerebral response to the new agents of mass-media replication and broadcast that is so often compared as European counterpart to the breakthrough innovation of Andy Warhol. Richter’s appropriation, editorship and extraordinary painterly rendition of a published newspaper photograph here typifies his re-presentation of found imagery and his highly sophisticated interrogation into means of visual perception and cognition, which has occupied the subsequent five decades of his career. His brushwork of the grisaille pigments creates a sfumato effect that dissolves outlines and contours of the photograph’s focus, and imbues the scene with the aura of a distant memory, inciting an emotional response in the viewer to an entirely anonymous image. The scale of Matrosen clearly signifies the importance invested in this work by Richter; the three square meters providing a suitable arena for his groundbreaking conceptual and technical advancements. Indeed, of the elite body of paintings executed by Richter to this point in his career in this terrific scale and that enlist found imagery from newspapers and magazines as their subject matter, eight famous works are held in esteemed public collections and distinguished museums. Cheyenne Westphal, Chairman of Contemporary Art, Europe said of the work “it is a privilege to be entrusted with such an important and rare masterpiece. Matrosen (Sailors) is a stunning example of the artist photorealist style.”

The First Collector’s Museum in Europe
The idea for a collector’s museum, an institution in which the collector is not only the lender but a committed mediator of modern art, was implemented for the first time in Europe in Bremen, a concept that clearly sets the Weserburg apart from traditional art museums. Various focuses have been selected from several German collections that provide insight into the world of art that is as personal as it is diverse. The private collector’s individual passion for art is combined with the scholarly eye of the museum in the special atmosphere of this historic building. In an impressive tour, visitors do not follow a path alongside art-historical developments, rather they follow dialogues between the individual works of art. The appeal lies in the interaction between the individual private collections. When strolling through the exhibition spaces, the juxtaposition and coexistence of different collection concepts under one roof enables experiencing contemporary art from ever new, in part surprising angles of vision.

Since it opened in 1991, the Weserburg has presented art from a number of private European collections, which enables viewers to perceive the spirited variety of contemporary art in a special way. Unlike public institutions, as art lovers, private collectors are only committed to their own preferences. By pursuing their personal ideas and passions, collections are created with an unmistakable character of their own.

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