Sale: 500 / Evening Sale, July 17. 2020 in Munich Lot 217

 
217
Gerhard Richter
Christiane und Kerstin, 1968.
Oil on canvas
Estimate:
€ 600,000 / $ 714,000
Sold:
€ 2,625,000 / $ 3.123.750

(incl. 25% surcharge)
Lot description
Christiane und Kerstin. 1968.
Oil on canvas.
Elger 197-4. Verso signed and dated. 86 x 91 cm (33.8 x 35.8 in).

• Characteristic Richter work from the sought-after early period of the black and white photo paintings.
• Made in context of the commission for the famous paintings "Domplatz. Mailand" (1968) which currently is Richter's most expenisve figurative work.
• Characterized by a perfect balance between sharpness and blur.
• A smaller second version of this portrait is in possession of the Dallas Museum of Art.
• Works with similar motifs are extremely rare on the international auction market and realize top prices, such as "Mädchen im Sessel (lila)" (2014, New York) und "Mädchen im Liegestuhl" (2011, London) Spitzenpreise.
• Typical 1960s motif in summery airiness.
• Since creation in one and the same private collection, for the first time offered on the international art market
.

PROVENANCE: Collection Margot and Werner Schäfer, Erlangen.
Private collection Southern Germany.

LITERATURE: Gerhard Richter. 36th Biennale di Venezia, Deutscher Pavillion, published by Museum Folkwang, Essen 1972, p. 40.
Gerhard Richter.Bilder= Paintings 1962 - 1985, Cologne 1986, p. 371, with black-and-white illu. on p. 85.
Dietmar Elger, Gerhard Richter. Maler, Cologne 2002, p. 437.
Dietmar Elger, Gerhard Richter. Maler, revised and extened edition, Cologne 2008, p. 395.
Dietmar Elger, Gerhard Richter. Catalogue Raisonné 1962-1968, vol. 1 (nos. 1-198), Ostfildern 2011, cat. no. 197-4, p. 397, with illu.
Marc Godfrey et al (editor), Gerhard Richter: Panorama. Retrospective, Munich 2012, p. 213.
Dietmar Elger, Gerhard Richter. Maler, 3rd revised and extended edition, Cologne 2018, p. 410.
Frances Guerin, The Truth is Always Grey, Minneapolis/London 2018, p. 268f.
"I believe a painter needn't see nor know the model, neither 'soul', nature or the model's character have o find expression. [.] This is why it is so much better to make a portrait after a photo, simply because you can never paint a person but just a picture [.]."

Gerhard Richter, 1966, quote after: Dietmar Elger, Gerhard Richter. Maler, Cologne 2018, p. 93.

"Gerhard Richter [.] is considered [.] the most important Post War artist world-wide. More than half a million people saw his latest retrospective, his oeuvre is acknowledged by both art history and art market: Paintings by Richter, especially early ones, realize hammer prices in the double-digit millions at international auctions."
Catrin Lorch, Süddeutsche Zeitung, June 18/19, 2016, no. 139, p. 24.

Essay
A number of superlatives show how much Gerhard Richter is acknowledged by both art history and the international art market: He is considered the most important German artist whose oeuvre has been recognized around the globe for decades, at the same time he is one of the most expensive living artists. Currently the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York , honors the epochal creation of the exceptional German artist in the solo show "Gerhard Richer - Painting after all" (March 4 - July 5, 2020), which – just as it was the case in the legendary retrospective "Gerhard Richter. Forty Years of Painting" at the Museum of Modern Art (2002) – embraces both Richter‘s black-and-white photo paintings and his later abstract large-size works. With regards to the two top prices realized for Richter paintings, one for a large abstract work from 1986 the other for a black-and-white photo painting of the Milan Cathedral Square made on behalf of Siemens AG in 1968, it becomes obvious that his representational works are at eye level with his abstract creations. This accounts for signature works such as the black-and-white photo paintings "Onkel Rudi" (1965, Lidice Memorial Collection, Lidice/Czech Republic), "Woman Descending the Staircase" (1965, The Art Institute of Chicago), "Ema (Akt auf einer Treppe)" (1966, Museum Ludwig, Cologne), the "Zyklus 18. Oktober 1977" based on press photos (the so-called RAF-Cycle, 1988, Museum of Modern Art, New York) as well as the marvelously in-painted portraits made after photos found in newspaper and magazines or his private photo albums. The finest accomplishment in this respect is the legendary portrait showing his daughter "Betty" turning her face away (1988, Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis), which is considered one of the most frequently reproduced works of Contemporary Art. When approaching "Christiane und Kerstin" from 1968, the two little daughters of the collector couple Margot and Werner Schäfer, we instantly feel the exceptional quality of Richter‘s painting: It‘s in the fascinating combination of closeness and remoteness, an effect the master realizes through his one-of-a-kind technique: The hazy but even in-painting, executed with soft brushes, puts the motif rendered with greatest love for the detail behind a gentle veil. However, in "Christiane und Kerstin" it is not only Richter‘s technical mastery that makes the work so special, as the motif of the two lovely girls looking so typical late 1960s with their bangs and swimwear is what makes for the picture‘s unique appeal. Richter‘s depiction, on the other hand, is not lovely at all, as the choice of photographic model that shows the two girls in full frontality, the choice of picture detail and the technically perfect execution make for virtuoso portrait characterized by remarkable clarity and strength. In this double portrait, presumably made after material from a private album of the collector couple, Richter‘s usage of different types of brushes did not only lead to the subtle-most transitions but also to an entirely homogeneous surface: "I wipe to make everything equal, both important and unimportant at the same time. I wipe to make it not look artistic and crafted but technical, smooth and perfect. I wipe so that all parts move a little closer. Perhaps I also wipe away unecessary information." (Gerhard Richter, Notizen 1964/65, quote from: Gerhard Richter, Text, Cologne 2008, p. 33). Since the 1960s Richter used newspaper clippings as well as photographs from private albums as basis for his pictures. In 1962 he compiled the collection of these models in the work "Atlas", among them numerous depictions of family members such as "Christa und Wolfi" (1964, The Art Institute of Chicago), "Familie" (1964, Collection Robert and Marguerite Hoffman, Dallas) which shows Richter as a small boy together with, among others, his sister Gisela, "Onkel Rudi" (1965, see above), "Renate und Marianne" (1964, Private Collection London), "Familie am Meer" (1964, Collection Sylvia and Ulrich Ströher, Darmstadt) and, of course, the portrait of his daughter "Betty" (1988, Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis).To Richter, however, it is never about the depicted persons at all, but just about the painting which solely has its individual point of origin in the respective motif. Accordingly, paintings of family members are absolutely on a par with works after newspaper clippings other photos such as "Woman Descending the Staircase" (1965, The Art Institute of Chicago) or the painting "Drei Geschwister" (1965, Private Collection Chicago), which Richter conceived in 1964 from a photo of the later Danish queen Margret and her two sisters that he came across in the tabloid newspaper ‘Revue‘. Richter put it as follows in an interview with the German magazine ‘Der Spiegel‘ from 2005: "I did not care that these aspects [= autobiographic references in his works] would become an issue for discussion, as I want observers to see the pictures and not the painter and his kin, as that would have put a label on me and would have made me far too transparent. Indeed, I didn‘t care for facts, neither names or dates. That‘s all like a language that disturbs or even destroys the pictorial language. It‘s like with dreams: They have a unique pictorial language that you can either take on or hastily interpret false." (Quote after: Gerhard Richter. Text 1961 to 2007, Cologne 2008, p. 511.)
Gerhard Richter‘s work group of paintings made after photos of family members of renowned art collectors had its origin with a portrait series Richter made at the initiative of the legendary Düsseldorf gallerist Alfred Schmela in context of his first solo show in September 1964. Richter made three portraits of the gallery owner after passport photos and photos shot at gallery opening, initially intended as a sort of sample for potential customers of the gallery. The first version of the "Portrait Schmela" (Elger 37-1) was sold at Sotheby`s London for almost 5 million euro in 2015. As a much celebrated multi-million euro donation another version (Elger 37-3) changed ownership from the art historian Viktoria von Flemming to the State Art Collection North Rhine-Westphalia in summer 2014. The same context provided the background for the ‘Porträt Dr. Knobloch‘, today in possession of the State Art Collection Dresden. In most cases Richter received photographic material that he sorts out from an artistic perspective until he finds the most suitable model and the perfect picture detail. The architect and art collector Werner Schäfer, father of the two girls depcited here, was in charge of the commission for black-and-white painting of the Milan Cathedral Square on behalf of Siemens AG in 1968. In 2013 Sotheby's New York sold it for the breathtaking amount of 37 million dollar. Back then Schäfer worked for Siemens AG as the architect of the company‘s international branches. Subsequent to the commission of the large-size painting of the Cathedral Square, Richter made two paintings after photographs that Helmut Lederer shot of Christiane and Kerstin on the terrace of the Schäfer residence. This first version offered here (Elger 197-4) is particularly convincing for its airiness and the nearly perfect balance between sharpness and blur. The second smaller version (Elger 197-5), initially also in possession of the Schäfers and today part of the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art, is characterized by such a strong wiping that blurs the two girls almost beyond recognition. A comparison of both version provides striking proof Richter‘s artistic struggle for the perfect balance between technical perfection and the rather accidental wiping of the color values. Even though the motifs never meant much more to Richter than just a formal point of origin, the material basis of his painting, every single one of them makes his early black-and-white paintings so distinctive. A short glance at the work is enough and you can‘t get the impression of the uniquely gentle duct and the glistening haziness that Richter rendered the marvelous and determined faces of "Christiane und Kerstin" in out of your mind. Today most top quality works from this early period of creation of Gerhard Richter are in possession of renowned international collections. An offer for sale on the international art market is a very rare event. [JS]
217
Gerhard Richter
Christiane und Kerstin, 1968.
Oil on canvas
Estimate:
€ 600,000 / $ 714,000
Sold:
€ 2,625,000 / $ 3.123.750

(incl. 25% surcharge)