The upcoming sale of Gerhard Richter's Abstraktes Bild at Sotheby's London Modern and Contemporary Art Evening Sale on March 1, 2023, is causing excitement among modern art enthusiasts. The monumental masterpiece is part of Richter's celebrated cycle of abstract paintings and spans four meters, boasting a size and chromatic intensity rarely found in the artist's other monumental masterworks.
Abstraktes Bild is a pivotal work in Richter's career, as it marked the moment when he abandoned the brush in favor of the squeegee as his primary compositional tool. Only 24 Abstraktes Bild of this magnitude has ever been produced by Richter, with half residing in museum collections worldwide. The present work is closely related to the current record price for Gerhard Richter at auction, which sold at Sotheby's London in 2015 for £30.2 million / $46.3 million, the highest price ever achieved for the artist at an auction.
1986 represents a decisive break in Richter's work, with the first large-scale touring retrospective Gerhard Richter: Paintings 1962-1985 in Düsseldorf, Berlin, Bern, and Vienna. The works that followed from 1986 to 1989 represent the absolute apex of Richter's Abstraktes Bilder, following the artist's earlier explorations into abstraction between 1980-85.
Abstraktes Bild showcases Richter's skillful use of texture, color, and structure, reminiscent of a landscape or the strata of a Monet waterlily painting. The horizontal swathes of paint migrate across the canvas in a wave-like motion, revealing the kaleidoscopic architectural structure of the artist's underpainting. The deep blue greens on the left-hand side of the composition give way to bright primary colors of red, yellow, and blue on the right-hand side, in a gradation that reminds viewers of the artist's earlier photo paintings.
Abstraktes Bild will be offered at auction with an estimate of over £20 million, coming from an American private collection that has remained since its last sale at Sotheby's New York in 2007 for $9.7 million. The masterpiece is of exceptional wallpower, quality, importance, and rarity, affirming Richter as the father of contemporary abstraction.
The March 1, 2023 auction is expected to generate significant interest among modern art collectors, following new benchmarks set for several of the artist's series in 2022. Abstraktes Bild will be exhibited for the first time since 2007 at the Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club, Miami Beach, before traveling to New York and Hong Kong and finally exhibited in London before the auction.