Bumped Richter Unique Now

“Upper right corner bumped”: Gerhard Richter, Spiegel, 1986, 21 [or 20.5] x 29.8 cm, ed. 89/100 [or unique] Lot 97 at Lempertz

Sometimes after all the relentless perfection what you really want is a Gerhard Richter Spiegel that has really seen some stuff. You just know this one has never spent a minute of its life in a box in a freeport, and shouldn’t that be a premium instead of an 80% discount?

Lot 97 ending online 7 Jun 2024: Gerhard Richter, Spiegel, 1986, est. €2,000 – €2,500 [update: sold for €2,900] [lempertz]

STRIP-TOWER Indoctrination Machine

Screenshot of HUO’s IG post of Gerhard Richter’s STRIP-TOWER, 2023, of a photo, I believe, by Prudence Cuming Associates

STRIP-TOWER, 2023, is a Very Tall Sculpture by Gerhard Richter with his abstracted Strip painting images printed on grids of ceramic tile. Installed through October 2024 at the Serpentine Galleries, it is probably a more successful incarnation than the strip tower shown at Art Basel last year.*

a photo of “some sort of Indoctrination Machine,” posted to Bluesky by Kieran Healy

Kieran Healy, meanwhile, spotted an entire tower of Very Short Introductions, the pocket-sized Oxford University Press books currently corrupting Our Youth about whatever.

Turns out both the NYPD and Gerhard Richter have a thing for digital reproduction, fabrication, and scale.

*[Wait, the artist’s website lists a 350cm tall STRIP-TOWER of digital print face-mounted to Perspex as being exhibited at the Serpentine right now. Are there two? Are we pretending there is just one, and that it is not the janky and provisionally mounted wood tower with a labelmaker label on the bottom that was in Basel? Or is that one just inside at the Serpentine? This is the second inaccurate exhibition notation I’ve seen on the artist’s website this year. Richter’s digital reproducing is running ahead of his registrars.]

Gerhard Richter, STRIP-TOWER, 2023 [serpentinegalleries.org]
Previously, related: Gerhard Richter Strip Show

Behind Grey Behind Glass

Gerhard Richter, Grau (hinter Glas) CR876-6, 2002, oil on glass in artist’s frame, 121.4 x 91.4 cm, selling at Christie’s in May

In 2002 Gerhard Richter made a dozen paintings with glass. Nine of them are straight-up panes of Antelio solar glass in different dimensions, with spidery mounts holding them away from the wall. Three have grey paint on the back of the glass.

This one, which Marian Goodman held onto for a while, is now for sale, which is not as important as the view we now get of the back of painting. Richter painted it in—and on—the frame.

17 May 2024, Lot 164, Gerhard Richter, Grau (hinter Glas), 2002, est. $400-600,000 [christies]
Grau (hinter Glas), Grey Painting Behind Glass, CR876-6, 2002 [gerhard-richter]
Previously, related: Pitochetto Painting On Glass
That weird little grey painting on panel from 1964

Can We See It? Gerhard Richter’s Engelskopf

Gerhard Richter, Engelskopf (Angel’s Head) [CR 48-7], 1963, also 1963/65, oil on linen? 68 x 72 cm, image via Gerhard Richter

I swear I will cut back on Gerhard Richter stanposting when Richter cuts back on wild things to stan.

While looking for examples of the way Richter considers his catalogue raisonné as a construct separate from a chronology, this painting caught my eye. Engelskopf, or Angel’s Head, [CR 48-7], is dated to 1963, where it comes after CR 13, CR 14 and CR 25-a, and is followed by CR 14-a and CR 15.

That 1963 date makes Engelskopf is one of the earliest photopaintings, but also one of the very first to include a caption text, which made Richter’s sourcing of reproduced images clear. It’s also Richter’s first art historical reference; except for Philipp Wilhelm, a painting of a newspaper clipping of a painted portrait, from 1964, it’ll be a long time before Richter directly references earlier artworks.

Continue reading “Can We See It? Gerhard Richter’s Engelskopf”

Not The Original, But It Sure Looks Similar: Gerhard Richter BIRKENAU

The inauguration of Gerhard Richter BIRKENAU, a permanent exhibition in a purpose-built, VW-funded pavilion at the International Youth Meeting Center in Oświęcim, Poland, opened on 9 February 2024, the artist’s 92nd birthday. via mdsm.pl

I cannot keep up. Literally the day I was contemplating even the possibility of a Facsimile Object of a Gerhard Richter Grey Mirror painting, Richter put four of them on permanent view. On his 92nd birthday. At Auschwitz.

Last month Gerhard Richter BIRKENAU, a permanent exhibition in a purpose-built pavilion, was opened at the International Youth Meeting Center in Oświęcim, the Polish town near the nazi death camp that took its name. It contains reproductions of the Sonderkommando photos that Richter used as a basis for the Birkenau series of large-scale squeegee paintings [CR 937/1-4] he made in 2014. [Two photos are visible on the concrete walls below.] It also includes full-scale Diasec-mounted versions of the Birkenau paintings [a medium Richter once used for a category he called “Facsimile Objects,” but which he later replaced with “Prints”]. And facing them are Facsimile Objects of a series of four Grey Mirror paintings. Photos of oil-on-glass paintings printed and Diasec face-mounted with acrylic on aluminum.

Mrs. Moritz-Richter, et al., at the inauguration of Gerhard Richter BIRKENAU, via mdsm.pl

In this Guardian article [shoutout greg.org hero/reader Claudio for the heads up] Agata Pyzik tries to put a market–or at least a marketing—critique on Richter’s use of photo copies of paintings, even while acknowledging his attempts to remove his Birkenau works from an art market context. [Richter’s kept the paintings in his foundation, and put the other facsimile edition in the Reichstag.]

Gerhard Richter, Grauer Spiegel (4 Parts) [CR 955], 2018, his last painting (so far), installed with Birkenau and Birkenau Facsimile Objects and Birkenau photos at the Met Breuer in 2020

I read the Birkenau facsimiles, which he has shown alongside the Birkenau paintings from the jump, including at the Met Breuer in 2020, as an attempt to head off any sacralization of the paintings themselves. He did not make them to be, and he does not want them to become icons of the Holocaust. Even worse for him, I think, would be being seen as attempting to iconize or exploit these terrible photographs, to turn them to his own use. He sees limits to his own project of painting in relation to images and history, and he’s not wrong.

Gerhard Richter, Grey Mirror [CR 751/1-4], 1991, each 300 x 175 cm., portrait-style, paint and enamel on glass, a gift of the artist to the Saint Louis Art Museum, with three giant squeegee diptychs, November, December & January, which the museum bought in 1990, visible in reflection.

But while all the media attention is on the Birkenau pictures, the most unsettling and powerful element of the installation, the mirrors, barely gets a mention. If this were any other work, any other place, any other time, the fact that Richter made Facsimile Objects of mirror paintings would be enough to keep me going for weeks. These happen to be facsimiles of Grey Mirror [CR 751/1-4], a series of 3 x 1.75 m, color-coated glass paintings made in 1991 for—and by—the St Louis Art Museum, a gift with purchase. [The purchase was Betty.] In Oświęcim, Richter has turned them sideways, and installed them landscape-style, as one continuous 12-meter mirror panorama.

But these are there, and now.

And so visitors to Oświęcim, while flanked on either side by direct photographic evidence of the nazi genocide at Birkenau as documented by its targets, will see reflections of themselves and everyone else with their backs turned to a repetition of Birkenau which looms behind them. It’s at least theoretically possible, if previously inconceivable, that if he opened an exhibition in Germany that made visitors look in a mirror while turning away from the evidence of genocide all around them, Richter could be arrested.

[update: After corresponding with the artist’s studio about broken links on the webpage for this exhibition, I was informed that this mirror work is actually an “exhibition copy” of Grauer Spiegel (4 Parts) [CR955], and not [CR751/1-4]. Which means the dimensions and material aspect of this object are still to be confirmed. For now the artist’s site still describes them as Diasec-mounted prints. Is that whan an exhibition copy of a mirror work is? Or would it be a similarly produced enamel paint on the back of glass? Perhaps we shall see.

Installation view of the Birkenau paintings and photos reflected in Grauer Spiegel (4 Parts) [CR955] at Gerhard Richter: 100 Works for Berlin, at the Neue Nationalgalerie thru 2026, a video still by Julius-Christian Schreiner via DW

What is significant, though, and has been unremarked by anyone, is that with these mirrors, the BIRKENAU installation replicates the current long-term installation of the Birkenau paintings, the Birkenau photos, and Grauer Spiegel (4 Parts) [CR955], at the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin. So viewers in Germany can, in fact, see themselves in a mirror, with the genocide of Birkenau represented behind and all around them, know that this same situation exists somewhere else right now, and contemplate the differences between an original and a repetition.]

Inauguration of the Gerhard Richter BIRKENAU Exhibition Pavilion [mdsm.pl]
Painting the Unpaintable: Gerhard Richter’s most divisive work returns to Auschwitz [guardian via csant]

Previously, related:
2014: Cage Grid: Gerhard Richter and the Photo Copy
2023: Gerhard Richter Painted
2024: Grauer Richter Facsimile Object

Grauer Richter Facsimile Object

Gerhard Richter, Grauer Spiegel, 2021, 40×34 cm, pigment on bicoloured glass, ed 100+20AP, image via David Zwirner

Happy belated birthday, Gerhard Richter, who is apparently too busy painting, drawing, and collaging to update his website. The Grauer Spiegel (2021, No. 179, pigment on glass, ed. 100+20AP), included in Richter’s current show at David Zwirner in London is not there. It looks like the pigment is actually on the recto of the glass, a depiction of a mirror, not a mirror itself. But that’s just how it’s photographed. Installed at the Points of Resistance IV: Skills for Peace exhibition at Zionskirche in Berlin in 2022, its mirror nature was on full view.

Continue reading “Grauer Richter Facsimile Object”

Was Ist Das Boot? Celmins| Richter Double Vision

Vija Celmins | Gerhard Richter, Double Vision, exhibition catalogue from Kunsthalle Hamburg

Posting about underseen little grey Richters really brings out the underseen little grey Richters. In a conversation begun on bluesky, Michael Seiwert mentioned seeing several in a very interesting show last Summer at the Hamburger Kunsthalle. Vija Celmins | Gerhard Richter, Double Vision, curated by Dr. Brigitte Kölle, is an intriguing Celmins show that is also a very rare two-artist Richter show.

Vija Celmins, Explosion at Sea, 1966, 13 1/2 x 23 1/2 in., oil on canvas, in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago

I love the show’s idea of “juxtaposing such a strong female position with the work of Gerhard Richter, so often presented as a singular phenomenon,” not just to see his work “with a fresh eye,” but because it puts both of them in a larger, richer context. These artists clearly share interests, approaches, motifs, and even biographies, that felt unexpected at first, but feel obvious now.

Spread showing rough times at sea from Celmins | Richter, Double Vision exhibition catalogue

Some of the resonances between Celmins’ and Richter’s practices come immediately to mind: photo-based painting, found/everyday objects, seascapes, fighter planes, grey, they’re all in there. But browsing the catalogue, I was straight up surprised by the spread above, which features a 1963 Richter titled Schlachtshiff [Battleship], and a 1966 Celmins, Explosion at Sea.

Destroyed Richter Painting #02 (ship), 2012, 40 x 30 in., oil on canvas

That Richter, though, is one the artist destroyed in the mid-1960s. It was the first of the Destroyed Richter Paintings I had remade in China in 2012, after seeing a photo of it, from Richter’s Archive, in Spiegel. OK, technically, and explicitly to the point, I had Richter’s archival photo painted at the scale of the destroyed painting it depicted, and I have shown and lived with this picture. So it is wild to see it included in this discussion. As Jaboukie might have said if he’d ever posed as Richter on twitter, “Just because I destroyed it doesn’t mean I can’t miss it.” Obviously, I am buying the book immediately.

Vija Celmins | Gerhard Richter, Double Vision, May-Aug 2023 [hamburger-kunsthalle.de]
Previously, related:
2012: Will Work Off JPEGs: Destroyed Richter Paintings
2016: Destroyed Richters at Chop Shop, as tweeted by Roberta Smith

Das Erste Abstraktes Bild?

Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild, CR-36-b, 1964, 14 x 10 in., oil and tape (?) on panel, image via gerhard-richter.com

David Rimanelli just posted this little Gerhard Richter painting on instagram, and I swear, I cannot figure out how I’ve never noticed it before.

It is just 14 x 10 inches, 35.7 x 25.5 cm, an oil on panel—the description on Richter’s website, and the Sotheby’s lot description from 2007 both say it is oil and tape on panel, but I really do think the absence of the tape is the point here.

Continue reading “Das Erste Abstraktes Bild?”

Gerhard Richter Dishes?

Gerhard Richter porcelainware set, 1992, for Edition Obelisco of Cologne, this set of six placesettings sold at Stahl in Hamburg in 2016

While looking for something else, I stumbled across this set of porcelain dishes by Gerhard Richter. They were apparently produced in 1992—there’s a big RICHTER 92 signature baked onto the bottom of everything—by the Thuringian porcelainmaker Kahla as part of an Edition Obelisco series of artist-designed dishware.

So now I’ve got to resist being one more empty result in the little swirling eddy on Google linking Richter and Obelisco and nothing else. Other listings say Edition Obelisco was commissioned for the 1992 edition of Art Cologne, but the Hamburg auction house Stahl that sold these six 7-piece place settings (six chargers, plates, soup dishes, cake plates, cups & saucers, and mugs) in 2016 said it just debuted at what was once the most important art fair around.

It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the blue brushstroke design of Richter’s dishes is apparently raised up from the white surface. The Gerhard Richter Archiv in Dresden, which has two place settings, reports that the planned edition of 500 sets was not realized because of production challenges. [From the various online images, maybe they had some trouble getting the blue right.]

this absolute mess of a plate by Walter Stöhrer didn’t sell last December. image: invaluable

Other artists in the Edition Obelisco series included a bunch of dudes—Michael Buthe, Alain Clement, Alan Jones, Emil Schumacher, Walter Stöhrer, Claude Viallat, and Wolf Vostell—and Isa Genzken, then still married to Richter. Out of all that, only one awful plate turns up online. Unless Vostell’s dishes are all encased in blocks of concrete, the only other one I want to see is Genzken’s. This whole project feels like a reunification euphoria fantasy that didn’t work out.

4096 Farben Zu Verkaufen

Lot 115: Gerhard Richter, 4096 Farben, 1974, enamel on canvas, 100×100 in., image via Sotheby’s

Life-sized portraits of lap-sized, wide-eyed poodles aren’t the only thing Sotheby’s is selling tomorrow. It’s also selling one of Gerhard Richter’s greatest paintings, 4096 Farben, CR-359, (1974). The 64×64 grid of 1024 different colors, each painted somewhere four times, is sort of a capstone of Richter’s color chart project. At least until the Köln cathedral windows, of course. And those are not for sale.

I wasn’t going to post this before I saw the drop-shadow in the image above. Because unlike most of the illustrations in the catalogue for 4900 Colours, it is actually a photograph of a painting.

Lot 115: Gerhard Richter, 4096 Farben, est. $18-25m [update: gekauft for $21.8m] [sothebys]

Gerhard Richter Painted

The last something: Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild (CR 952-4), 2017, 200x250cm, image:gerhard-richter.com

I get it, it’s been six years since Gerhard Richter announced he’d “retired from painting,” but after several months of press releases and invites for a show of “new and recent” work, it still came as a shock to read David Zwirner describing the show opening last night as containing “a group of Richter’s last paintings, made in 2016–2017.”

Gerhard Richter painting in Gerhard Richter Painting, 2011, image from Corinna Belz’ film

Of course, what it technically means is, “last paintings on canvas.” Or “last squeegee paintings.” Which still shocks to think about; I, for one, would like him to still be painting. But given the artist’s incredible physical exertion while making the squeegee paintings in Corinna Belz’ 2011 film, Gerhard Richter Painting, it’s understandable. I’m still trying to think through what to make of it, though, and to see what Richter’s making now.

Continue reading “Gerhard Richter Painted”

ASMRt — Lot 10: Gerhard Richter

Lot 10: Gerhard Richter, Mathis, 1983, withdrawn from sale

I only realized just now, while uploading the mp3, that I have already read Gerhard Richter auction catalogue essays for one episode of ASMRt. Well, here is another, for a work that was withdrawn from the Phillips contemporary evening sale last night in London. After this lot, representing more than half the evening’s estimated total, was removed, the auction achieved a 100% sale rate.

This painting, Mathis, from 1983, strikes me as a very good transitional painting, and was recognized as such by a serious collector who kept it for decades. That did not, apparently, drive interest to the level Phillips had estimated, and so all the work of contextualizing this painting was at risk of being lost, or at least under-appreciated. Not now though.


Download ASMRt_Richter_Mathis_Phillips_March2023.mp3 [greg.org, 20mb, 22:00]

Eis, Eis Baby

Gerhard Richter, Eis 2/Ice 2 [CR 706-2], 1989, 200×160 cm, collection: Art Institute of Chicago

In 1989 Gerhard Richter made four large, slush-colored squeegee paintings [CR 706-1 through 4], which he titled Eis/Ice. In 1997, the Lannan Foundation helped give the brightest one, Eis 2, to the Art Institute of Chicago.

Gerhard Richter, Eis 2, 2003, 111.3 x 88.9 cm sheet, ed. 67/108, signed,
sold at Sotheby’s NY on 19 July 2022 for $56,700

In 2003, Richter made a quarter-sized (100 x 80 cm) print edition of Eis 2 for the 40th anniversary of Lincoln Center Editions, a print fundraising operation of the Vera List Art Project. Richter and Robert Blanton’s print studio Brand X created an amazing 41-color screenprint version of the painting, just the kind of medium shifting challenge those guys would love.

Gerhard Richter, Eis 2 poster, 113 x 87 cm sheet of Somerset, unsigned, but still an edition

Clearly it worked, because Richter put out Eis 2 as a signed edition of 108 (plus 27 proofs) on Somerset. They started popping at auction about three years ago, and in the last year have sold for $56-$90,000.

Brand X also printed 500 copies of an unsigned poster version on slightly taller, narrower Somerset, with the Lincoln Center/List Art Posters caption. Same image dimensions (40 x 32 in.), same screens. These ur-Facsimile Objects sell for just a couple thousand dollars.

So whether you’re a connoisseur of printing technique or spending technique, there’s an Eis 2 for you. In fact, there’s one coming up at LA Modern on January 11th. [update: it sold for a decent $3,024.]

Previously, clearly, in retrospect, related:
2016: Gerhard Richter Facsimile Objects
2014: Cage Grid: Gerhard Richter and the Photo Copy
2013: Gerhard Richter’s Septembers