Gerhard Richter (b. 1932), Ausschnitt (Kreutz), (Detail (Kreutz)). Photo: Christie's Images Ltd., 2011
signed and dated 'Richter 1971' (on the reverse), oil on canvas, 78¾ x 78¾in. (200 x 200cm.). Painted in 1971 Estimate £1,200,000 - £1,800,000. Price Realized £1,049,250
Provenance: Dieter Kreutz Collection, Duisburg (acquired directly from the artist). Private Collection, USA.
Fine Art & Project, Mendrisio.
Private Collection, Switzerland.
Anon. sale, Christie's New York, 11 May 2004, lot 51.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Literature: Gerhard Richter: Arbeiten 1962 bis 1971, exh. cat., Dusseldorf, Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, 1971 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).
K. Honnef, "Gerhard Richter im Kunstverein Dusseldorf," in Magazin Kunst, no. 43, 1971 (illustrated in color, p. 2410).
Gerhard Richter, exh. cat., Venice, XXXVI Biennale di Venezia, 1972, no. 290 (illustrated, p. 61).
K. Honnef, Gerhard Richter, Recklinghausen 1976 (illustrated in colour, p. 43).
Gerhard Richter. Bilder, Paintings 1962-1985, exh. cat., Dusseldorf, Städtische Kunsthalle Dusseldorf, 1986, no. 290 (illustrated, p. 129).
B. Buchloh (ed.), Gerhard Richter, Werkübersicht/Catalogue Raisonné 1962-1993, Osterfilden-Ruit 1993, vol. III, no. 290 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).
A. Bruciati, "Kiefer e Richter. Frau Apollineo e dionisiaco", in Per immagine, Spring 2000 (illustrated, p. 25).
Gerhard Richter. Atlas, exh. cat., Sakura City, Kawamura Memorial Museum of Art, 2001 (illustrated, p. 98).
Gerhard Richter: Portraits, exh. cat., Flensburg, Museumsberg, 2006 (illustrated in colour, p. 123).
R. Storr, Gerhard Richter Rot-Gelb-Blau: Die Gemälde für BMW, Munich 2007 (illustrated in colour, p. 41).
Exhibited: New York, Luhring Augustine, Gerhard Richter: Selected Works 1963-1987, 1995-96 (illustrated in colour, on the cover and p. 55).
Bolzano, Museion, Gerhard Richter: Paintings, 1996, no. 16 (illustrated in colour).
Barcelona, Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Gerhard Richter. Atlas, 1999. Oslo, Astrup Fearnley Museet, Gerhard Richter: The Art of the Impossible - Paintings 1964-1998, 1999 (illustrated in colour, p. 80).
Prato, Centro per l'Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Gerhard Richter: Retrospective, 1999-2000 (illustrated in colour, p. 83).
Notes: 'The Ausschnitte of 1970-71 are very small cut-outs, about 1-2 square cm, from palettes or from pictures that, when enlarged as a painting, take on an abstract appearance of indeterminate "beauty". Despite my bias, I enjoy these cut-out paintings for their radical quality as nonpaintings - as only reproductions could be, inasmuch as they do not recall the actual source image.'
(Richter, quoted in D. Elger & H.-U. Obrist (ed.), Gerhard Richter Text: Writings, Interviews and Letters 1961-2007, London 2009, pp. 115-116).
Executed in 1971, the extraordinary two metre square surface of Ausschnitt (Kreutz) envelopes the viewer in an intense, sensuous and ultimately highly intellectual painterly experience. With its cascading rhythms of sumptuous, swirling reds, blues and whites, one is immediately captivated by the sheer immersion in paint as it drives down the canvas. However as one studies closer, a different story begins to unfold which questions the nature of classification in painting. One of a rare series of nine paintings executed in 1970-71 of which four are in Museum collections, this work can be seen to represent the cornerstone of Gerhard Richter's pioneering post-modern philosophy of painting. Taking his groundbreaking investigation into the nature of style in painting to its most logical extent, this work takes a small detail (the literal translation of Ausschnitt) of a segment of his paint-covered palette or a brushstroke of his own which has been photographed and magnified up hundreds of times to represent it on this scale. It is then painstakingly and meticulously rendered in a photo-realist style across this vast surface to create a painting which immediately confuses the eyes and the senses. On the one hand, the brushstroke is seen as the artistic and painterly index of passion and feeling and yet here an image of paint has been rendered in the most mechanical way possible by hand - and the representation
is so emotionally arresting that it is hard to comprehend the viewing experience. Deliberately eschewing any appearance of gesturality, Richter here introduces an intriguing tension between the content of the picture - the pure material energy of paint - and the manner of its creation.
Richter himself was thus clearly aware that the sumptuous appearance of Ausschnitt (Kreutz) and its fellow pictures almost distracted the viewers from the incredible assault on the medium of painting that was being carried out under our very eyes. The surface is a feint, a deliberate piece of sleight-of-hand which leaves the viewer absorbed within the flows and currents, rendered in warm, earthy and creamy, mouth-watering colours, however beneath the construct, Richter is challenging an entire history of painting. One can trace a clear art historical development from the birth of the brushstroke as the ultimate expressive tool under Van Gogh to the German Expressionists of the 1920s for whom the brushstrokes represented the epitome of emotion; to the Abstract Expressionists of the 1940s-50s who took any figurative association away from the meaning of the brushstroke; to Roy Lichtenstein who famously turned the brushstroke into a Pop icon by removing it from its established context and turning it into a graphic object; to this series of works by Gerhard Richter in which the boundaries between abstraction and figuration are completely intertwined and paint is made to represent itself and the expresssion is turned on its head; and finally to the present day paintings of Glenn Brown, whose work consists of bastardized versions of other expressionist paintings.
This picture is filled with gaseous swirls which are made all the more ineffable by the soft focus that Richter achieves with such skill in his Photo Paintings. The eddies of colour that articulate the picture's surface recall photographs of the surface of Jupiter, linking Ausschnitt (Kreutz) to the paintings of clouds that Richter created during the same period, while also appearing mysteriously abstract. It is interesting to note, that despite a decade of 'acknowledged' painting at this point since he had escaped from East Germany, this series of paintings was one of the first which actively incorporated the use of colour. Dietmar Elger has explained that this was in part a result of Richter's increasing involvement with his friend and fellow artist, Blinky Palermo. Where Palermo negotiated the use of colour in his paintings through such techniques as stitching pre-dyed materials together in a way that echoed yet outmanoeuvred the Color Field painters on the other side of the Atlantic, Richter's
Ausschnitte, were based on other readymade and therefore arbitrary colour sources. This intriguing extension of the Photo Painting technique with which Richter had gained so much attention over the previous decade paved the way for his increasing experimentation with sheer abstraction. Like Palermo, Richter has managed to deconstruct colour, and yet to do it in such a way that we, as viewers, remain entranced by it. There are only nine Ausschnitt pictures, all dating from 1970-71; one is unillustrated in the catalogue raisonné and one plays with the grisaille palette formerly favoured by Richter, thereby eschewing the lush colouration of its fellows. Four of the Ausschnitte are in museum collections: the Museum Folkwang, Essen; Sprengel Museum, Hannover; Collection Sylvia and Ulrich Ströher, Museum Küppersmhle für Moderne Kunst, Duisburg; Böckmann Collection, Neues Museum, Staatliches Museum für Kunst und Design, Nuremberg.
Christie's. Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction, 16 February 2011, London, King Street www.christies.com