This signed mixed media print is from acclaimed German artist, Gerhard Richter. Part of the Black, Red, Gold collection, it was issued in an edition of 128 in 1998. A simple composition comprising three bands of colour, its image depicts a prototype for a sculpture Richter made in 1999. This sculpture, entitled Schwarz, Rot, Gold, was commissioned by the German government as part of the 1999 renovation of the German Reichstag.
In this simple yet effective print, we are party to the intricacies of Richter’s creative process. Resembling a fragment from the artist’s so-called ‘Atlas’ - a monumental collection of thousands of images, compiled by Richter himself, which has served as a cornerstone of his realist painting since the 1960s - the work speaks to Richter’s preparations for a sculptural work. This sculpture was commissioned by the German government in 1999, and was to hang in the atrium of the German Reichstag building. Racked by a 1933 fire that directly enabled the Nazi seizure of power, the Reichstag building had lain in ruins for over 60 years at its location in the heart of Berlin, adjacent to the Berlin Wall.
Consisting of three ‘bands’ of block colour, Richter’s sketch and its more polished cousin - (Schwarz Rot Gold IV (2015) - makes clear and symbolic reference to the German flag. These three bands of colour - black, red, and gold - were attacked by the Nazi regime, who reverted the German flag to its pre-1918, imperial colours following their seizure of power in 1933. Reinstated by both East and West Germany after the Second World War, the flag stands as a symbol of German unity, democracy, and freedom. Conveying the renewed sense of social and political optimism that German reunification in 1991 brought with it, this work - and the 2043 centimetre-long site-specific sculpture it pre-dates - are emblematic of Richter’s long-standing engagement with German Vergangenheitsbewältigung - or ‘working through the past’.