Tonight in London, Sotheby's
establishes new auction record for Gerhard Richter with sale of his Abstraktes Bild (804-9) for the outstanding sum of £21,321,250 / $34,190,756, far surpassing pre-sale expectations of £9-12 million, smashing the previous record for the artist by almost $13 million, and establishing the highest price at auction in London this week.
This abstract oil on canvas masterwork from 1994 came from the collection of Eric Clapton and sold to an anonymous buyer after two telephone bidders competed for the work for over 5 minutes until it finally sold to a round of applause for the new record sum.
Produced as part of a concise series of four works numbered 809 in Richters Catalogue Raisonné, monumentally scaled and richly chromatic Abstraktes Bild (809-4) ranks alongside the very highest tier of Richter Abstracts housed in museums internationally.
Gerhard Richters abstract works represent the furthest most point and crowning achievement of his ground-breaking conceptual inquiry into the fundamental objective of painting - an aesthetic investigation that reached its mature zenith at the moment Abstraktes Bild came into being during the mid-1990s. With its sweeping primaries of red, yellow and blue, in chromatic and compositional power Abstraktes Bild rivals those works held in the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Philadelphia Museum of Art, as well as the astounding four-part Bach series housed in the Moderna Museet, Stockholm. The sister painting to this work, numbered 809-3, presently resides in the joint collection of the Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland.
Delivering an arresting display of seemingly endless chromatic variegation, Abstraktes Bild possesses an aesthetic authority of the very highest calibre within Richter's magisterial abstract corpus. Interestingly, the united colour palette of Abstraktes Bild confers a particular allusion to RGB colour. Comprised of red, green and blue, the synthesis and manipulation of these three wavelengths of light are utilised for the sensing, representation and display of images in electronic systems as well as for traditional photography. The painting is a masterpiece of calculated chaos and a paradigm of Gerhard Richters mature artistic and philosophical achievement.