Discover art for sale. Buy and sell prints & editions online by contemporary visual artist Gerhard Richter. Calling for the ‘death of painting’ itself, Richter constantly challenges traditional painting techniques in his work.
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Unrestrained by any one visual style, German artist Gerhard Richter’s work spans abstraction to photorealism, glasswork to photography. Richter’s eclectic oeuvre is rich in varied media, from his famous reproductions of both banal and historic photography to his sheer panes of glass and church windows.
Image © Sotheby's / Abstraktes Bild © Gerhard Richter 1986
When Abstraktes Bild (1986) sold for £30.4 million at Sotheby's in 2015, it set the record for highest sale price achieved by a living European artist, and on the day after Gerhard Richter’s own 83rd birthday. The painting was the star of the night and far surpassed its £14–£20million estimate.
Richter created the piece by heavily layering oil paints on canvas and then pulling excess paint away using a wooden board and a homemade wooden squeegee. The artwork was known for being one of Richter’s personal favourites, which added to its collectability. It is also one of Richter’s largest abstract works, measuring 9ft 10in by 8ft 2in.
Image © Christie's / Abstraktes Bild © Gerhard Richter, 1994
Despite the vast array of subjects his art touches upon, Richter confessed to being fond of painting abstract canvases, which bring him joy like no other. The same fondness for colourful abstraction seems to be also true for Richter’s collectors, who never miss the chance to engage in a fierce bidding war.
Such was the case for Richter’s Abstraktes Bild (1994). The expansive scale of the painting, measuring around 7 feet square, and its vivid use of colours and brash brushstrokes, led it to achieve an astounding USD 36,500,000 (over £30 million) when it sold on 10 May 2022 at Christie’s New York, making it the second most expensive Richter work to have gone under the hammer.
Image © Sotheby's / Abstraktes Bild 809-4 © Gerhard Richter 1994
In 2012, Abstraktes Bild (809-4) set a new record price for a living artist at auction. A record that Richter then went on to break in 2013, and once again in 2015. The piece was formerly part of Eric Clapton’s art collection, which added to the prestige of an already sought-after example of Richter’s intense and colourful, abstract works.
An anonymous bidder purchased the piece for almost double its high estimate, demonstrating Richter’s enduring international appeal. The artwork is quintessential of Richter’s Abstraktes Bild series, exemplifying the scale of these works as well as the artist’s unique focus on making his technique of using wooden boards, a homemade squeegee, and oil paints, clear on the canvas itself.
This oil on canvas has since been resold in the 21st Century Art Evening Sale on 10 May 2022 in Christie's, New York, for a staggering £29.6million.
Image © Sotheby's / A B, Still © Gerhard Richter 1986