Gerhard Richter is a German visual artist who has, over the span of years, created abstract and photorealistic paintings, as well as photographs and glass pieces. His artistry is inspired by the works of Picasso and Jean Arp, predominantly in the subverting the notion of the artist’s commitment to a single cohesive style. Richter’s art demonstrates the illusionistic space that appears to be natural and the material and the activity of painting itself. To Richter, reality is only the blend of the efforts to understand the world that surrounds us. He is a surrealist, an objectivist, a photo-painter, a rebel, an abstractionist, a sculptor, a draftsman, an internationally exhibited artist. He is the German response to the world’s dire need of a true artist.
What is interesting about Gerhard Richter is that, in his paintings, he depicted various famous figures, such as composers Gustav Mahler and Jean Sibelius, writers such as H. G. Wells and Franz Kafka, German Red Army Faction members such as Ulrike Meinhof, Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin, Holger Meins, and Jan-Carl Raspe. He has produced a number of monochromes and color chart paintings as well as intricate glass sculptures and drawings, mostly of things that didn’t work, for example, a hand that could not draw. Today, we are lucky to be able to enjoy his fantastic oeuvre and some of the lucky few even get to own some of his pieces, so let’s see the breakdown of his most expensive paintings sold at auctions around the world.
This complementary color composition with the warm and cold tones combination is at the tenth place on our list. This piece, created in 1986 with the visible brushstrokes and a densely applied color is one of Gerhard Richter’s most notable paintings. The color scale may remind one of the Claud Monet’s impressionist masterpiece San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk. Although Richter is not an impressionist, this painting is the living proof of his rebellion against the labelling of artists and putting them in a specific genre box. This piece was sold for $26.485.000 at Sotheby’s New York, thus making it the “cheapest” most expensive Gerhard Richter painting on this top 10.
Find out more about it here.
The basis of this composition is repetition with alteration in the color transition. It may remind one of a color scale. The vertical layout of this oil on canvas indicates the stability and the strength. Abstraktes Bild is the prime example of Richter’s series of abstract paintings that are characterized by the distinguishing constructions of striations. It is the last of the four paintings that carry that name and it is also one of the eleven paintings to pass eight feet in height. This piece creates a vigorous sensation of depth and its transposable light and dark hues of deepest crimson on bright whites, and vibrant cyan on opaque umber create a dynamic topography and makes our eyes wonder about what is near and what is far in this painting. This piece was sold for $28.250.000 at Sotheby’s New York in 2015.
Find out more about the auction and the piece here.
This oil on canvas was in Gerhard Richter’s private collection for more than 15 years before he decided to sell it to the Wako Works of Art Gallery in Tokyo, back in 2010. Gerhard Richter’s Wand is an imperious wall of echoing color. The vertical stripes of vivid cadmium red obstructed by horizontal bands of delicate cobalt blue and magenta compose the glorious conclusion of a cataclysmic painterly process. Nowhere else are Richter’s painterly contradictions more obvious, wedged between the insufficiency of abstract expressionist idealism and the mechanical imitation that gives away to contemporary culture a “photographic face”. Wand possesses the extensive power of a Mark Rothko that has been channeled through or concealed under the distortive buzz of a kind of aesthetic static. Wand (Wall) was sold for $28.663.300 at Sotheby’s London in 2014.
See more details here.
This magnificent Gerhard Richter painting has been exhibited numerous times all over the world. Extraordinarily dramatic, inspirational and at times inexplicable, Blau is a demonstration of the sublime. Looking at this painting, we are confronted with a square coliseum that reaches past nine feet in height and width. Its spectacular form, texture and color depict the inscrutable chaos, it evokes the feeling of something not of this earth. It calls to mind Rothko’s ebullience of metamorphic color, Pollock’s suggestion of independent composition and de Kooning’s allocation of the figural to the abstract. Blau was sold for $28.725.000 at Sotheby’s New York.
See the whole painting and the details here.
Painted in 1990, this jewel of Abstraktes Bild series live and breathes aesthetic dynamism. It is the prime example of Richter’s layering and reductive techniques. He applies and then removes the layers of paint, revealing dramatic rifts and fractures which show traces of the painting’s complex texture. By moving the squeegee to and fro, and left to right across the canvas, Richter creates a number of vertical striations. Compared to Rothko’s and Pollock’s works, Gerhard Richter’s abstract paintings evoke the sense of the ethereal, the spiritual, and the mystical. This painting was sold for $29.285.000 at Christie’s New York in 2014.
Take a look at the painting and the auction details here.
This oil on canvas was exhibited a number of times, in Eindhoven, Berlin, Paris, and Tokyo. The painting shows a rare synchronicity of smooth wet-on-wet brushstrokes and studded worktop. The great tugs of Richter’s squeegee across a dry surface reveals a layer of viridian green over the cadmium yellow, which gives the stunning impression of simultaneously chaotic and calm masterpiece. The scraped colors result in flabbergasting textures and hues. This painting is third in a four-part series, created in 1987. It conjures the sense of desire, as these colors titillate our optical and tactile sensations and quell our hunger for pure pleasure.
It was sold for $31.525.000 at Christie’s New York in 2014. Check out the whole painting and other details here.
This Gerhard Richter painting may remind one of molten lava burning in hot color. The chromatic blend of blue, purple, orange, magenta and yellow, pink, and turquoise captivates the viewer immediately and reminds of the kaleidoscope. The luminous hues almost look like Aurora Borealis shining above the red, orange, green, or violet planets. The unstable texture of saturated hues that blend and smear together in aggressively tainted combinations invites us to come closer and examine the painting as if a scientist would examine the sample of the new, fascinating discovery. It inspires the viewers to find out what lies behind the layers of paint and to figure out what is the message conveyed behind this masterpiece.
This piece was sold for $32.293.300 at Christie’s London. Go ahead and find out more about the painting and the auction here.
The 1994 oil on canvas from the collection of the famous singer/songwriter Eric Clapton belongs to Gerhard Richter’s incredible abstract opus. It is the final piece of the four-part series. The monumentally-scaled piece’s primary colors are red, blue, yellow, and green. The composition delivers a display of apparently endless iridescence and layered painterly procedure. Often compared to Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, or Yves Klein and their dialogue on the sublime power of pure colors and forms, this Richter work depicts and convey that “je ne sais quoi” which lies beneath and beyond our conceptual faculties.
Making it to the top three of our list, this piece was sold for $34.165.200 at Sotheby’s London in 2012. Find out more about it here.
The 1968 oil painting that has been exhibited in Turin, New York and Washington D.C. takes the second place on our top ten list. The breathtaking photo-painting masterpiece was at the time of creation the largest painting he has created. Executed when Richter was thirty-six, the astonishing 9 by 9 feet piece marks it as a historic moment in his creative oeuvre. Depicting the astounding view of Piazza del Duomo in front of Milan’s Cathedral, Richter has blurred the image dominated by the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The juxtaposition of the Gothic Duomo and the neo-classical Galleria intelligently compares the difference between commerce and religion. Milan has been Gerhard Richter’s source of inspiration and fascination for many years, as he has painted a number of scenes of its urban fabric, such as the Duomo itself and numerous cityscapes.
This fantastic painting was sold for $37.125.000 at Sotheby’s New York, making it the second most expensive Gerhard Richter painting. See more about it here.
Number one on our list is the amazing Abstraktes bild from 1986. In the creation of this piece, Richter waged a war between the brush and the squeegee. Horizontal bands and vertical drags of wide brushstrokes are interrupted by more angular accents, resulting in a mesmerizing ground in which painterly components simultaneously quarrel and complement each other. Deepest blue and acidic yellow and red bestow upon the viewer illustrious light effects that edges on the experimental. The centrally places radiant green is punctured by a stream of bright color reminding one of sunlight shining through the soft flock of clouds.
Abstraktes bild was sold for the record-breaking $46.306.800 at Sotheby’s London, making it the highest sold painting by a living European artist. Find out more about the painting and the auction details here.
Read Other Interesting Stories
These nine African American abstract artists are influential to me for the confidence with which they have dedicated themselves to moving the field of abstract art forward.
As a movement centered on redefining depth as a formal abstract element, Abstract Illusionism was so successful that it was beaten into the ground by the public that adored it.
In a brief yet exciting interview for Widewalls, the Catalan artist Ramon Enrich unravels his thoughts about his painterly practice inspired by architecture.