Picture "10.4.88" (1988) (Unique piece)
Picture "10.4.88" (1988) (Unique piece)
unique piece | signed | dated | watercolour on paper | framed | size 35 x 42.5 cm
Picture "10.4.88" (1988) (Unique piece)
For Richter, watercolour painting was like a little break from the large-format paintings in oil. Painting pictures was his daily work, his profession - whereas when painting watercolours, he was able to indulge his moods, the painter said. Richter had already made his first attempts at watercolour painting at the age of 17. However, when he began his studies at the Dresden Art Academy in 1951, he initially lost sight of watercolour painting because it was not taught at the academy. Richter produced his first series of works in watercolour in 1964. But it was not until 1977 that he included watercolour painting in his oeuvre. He always worked in cycles and created entire series of watercolours within a few weeks. At the end of 1997, he finally finished his work in this technique completely.
During the two decades during which Gerhard Richter painted watercolours, he developed a very individual definition of this painting technique. After all, Richter would not have been Richter if he had executed watercolour painting in a textbook manner. As in his oil painting, he was not satisfied with the limits of the technique. Instead, he modified it and was constantly on the lookout for new possibilities and facets. His refusal of the rules of watercolour began with his choice of medium: When he began to paint in watercolour on a larger scale in 1977, he did not paint on special watercolour paper as usual, but on plain writing paper, some of which was even chequered or lined. In combination with the very damp paint, this thin paper curled extremely. According to his own statement, he tried to avoid the typical watercolour aesthetic and wanted to give his works an individual character.
Even when applying the paint, he did not adhere to conventions. He almost completely avoided the transparency typical of watercolour and applied the colours with high opacity. When choosing colours, he allowed himself excursions into unfamiliar realms and used light and bright colours, as well as now and then very dark tones such as black, grey and brown. In the entire painting process of his predominantly abstract works with watercolours, random processes also played an important role for him. For example, after applying the paint, he swung the sheet in different directions and thus allowed the watercolours to take their free course.
Watercolour on paper, 1988, signed and dated. Motif size/sheet size 16.1 x 23.3 cm. Size in frame 35 x 42.5 cm as shown.
About Gerhard Richter
Gerhard Richter has been in first place in the Art Compass year after year since 2004. Only once, in 2009, did Georg Baselitz - otherwise consistently in second place - displace Gerhard Richter from his top position.
And in 2023, Richter is once again in first place in the ranking of the world's most sought-after contemporary artists.
The Art Compass has been published in different magazines every fall since 1970, most recently in Capital magazine. It measures and evaluates solo exhibitions in internationally renowned museums and art institutes, participation in group exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale and reviews in renowned art magazines.
"I pursue no intentions, no system, no direction; I have no programm, no style, no mission." With these words, one of the most successful and versatile artists of our time describes himself - Gerhard Richter.
Born in Dresden, Germany, in 1932, Richter left his hometown two months before the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961 and went to West Germany to continue his studies at the Düsseldorf Art Academy. The young artist attracted attention with his photo-realistic paintings of motifs straight out of the family album. In a time and environment in which experimental, abstract art was predominant, Richter's paintings caused a sensation.
Richter's characteristic seems to be to look for new modes of expression whenever a method he explored has successfully established itself on the art market. His figurative painting in grey was followed by monochrome grey paintings and the coloured "Vermalung" (Inpainting) that made the pictorial motif unrecognisable. In the mid-1970s, he got involved in abstraction, no less successfully than with his previous works.
Versatility extends through Gerhard Richter's entire oeuvre. He is not "only" a painter, but also a sculptor and photographer, he draws, paints in watercolours, does performances and installations. His photographs and prints are now just as sought-after as his paintings, with high prices included. His paintings take up the room and are created with full physical effort.
His fame and the high prices are sometimes scary for the artist himself, as he freely admitted in an interview with Die Zeit in 2015. However, this does not detract from the popularity of his works. Richter is an artist who, despite his outstanding status, has remained true to himself and prefers to let his art speak instead of stage-managing himself.
In 2011, his oil painting "Kerze" (Candle) from 1982 sold for almost 12 million euros at Christie's London. The painting belongs to a series that Richter painted in the early 1980s in his slightly blurred, photorealistic style. It is considered a symbol of East Germany (GDR) citizens' silent protest against the socialist regime and became one of Richter's most famous motifs.
The most important private collector of Gerhard Richter is the British musician Eric Clapton, who owns more than 50 works. And this even though Richter's works are the most expensive of any living artist on the art market. The canvas "Abstraktes Bild" (Abstract Picture) from 1986 was sold at Sotheby's for 41 million euros. And even some of Richter's graphic works are already being traded in the six-figure range.
Gerhard Richter was awarded the Praemium Imperiale, the Nobel Prize for the arts, in 1997 and, as special recognition, a comprehensive retrospective at the New York Museum of Modern Art in 2002. With 188 works, it was the largest ever dedicated to a living artist.
Term for paintings and sculptures that are detached from the representational depiction, which spread throughout the entire western and parts of the eastern world from around 1910 onwards in ever new stylistic variations. The Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky, born in 1866, is considered the founder of abstract art. Other important artists of abstract art are K.S. Malewitsch, Piet Mondrian, and others.
Paintings with glazing watercolours, that are characterised by their transparency, which let deeper layers and painting surfaces shine through.
Often the paper surface is omitted. This contributes significantly to the effect of the work. The aquarelle painting requires skilful use of colour, as it dries quickly and corrections are almost impossible.
A one-of-a-kind or unique piece is a work of art that has been personally created by the artist. It exists only once due to the type of production (oil painting, watercolours, drawing, etc.).
In addition to the classic unique pieces, there exist the so-called "serial unique pieces". They present a series of works with the same colour, motif and technique, manually prepared by the same artist. The serial unique pieces are rooted in "serial art", a type of modern art, that aims to create an aesthetic effect through series, repetitions and variations of the same objects or themes or a system of constant and variable elements or principles.
In the history of arts, the starting point of this trend was the work "Les Meules" (1890/1891) by Claude Monet, in which for the first time a series was created that went beyond a mere group of works. The other artists, who addressed to the serial art, include Claude Monet, Piet Mondrian and above all Gerhard Richter.