Vente: 545 / Evening Sale 08 décembre 2023 à Munich Lot 22


Gerhard Richter
Alster (Hamburg), 1963.
Oil on canvas
€ 1,000,000 / $ 1,080,000
€ 2,105,000 / $ 2,273,400

( frais d'adjudication compris)
Alster (Hamburg). 1963.
Oil on canvas.
Signed and dated on the reverse. 62 x 84 cm (24.4 x 33 in). [JS].

• First black-and-white landscape and at the same time the first townscape in Gerhard Richter's oeuvre.
• Paintings from the 1960s are among the most sought-after works.
• Works from the group of townscapes are extremely rare on the international auction market
• The city view “Cathedral Square, Milan” (1968) set a world record in 2013 (source:
• Prominent exhibition history: In 1964 in the legendary "Front Yard Exhibition" at Galerie Parnass, which was seminal for Richter's work and since then shown in many important Richter exhibitions

PROVENANCE: Galerie René Block, Berlin.
Klaus E. uad U. Momm Collection, Bremen (presumably acquired from the above - 1995, Christie’s New York, May 3, 1995).
Galerie Orangerie-Reinz, Cologne.
Olbricht Collection, Essen.
Private collection Northern Germany.

EXHIBITION: Vorgartenausstellung, Galerie Parnass, Wuppertal, February 1964 (still with the blank margin that Richter removed at a later point).
Gerd Richter. Fotobilder, Portraits und Familien, Galerie Friedrich & Dahlem, Munich, June 10 – July 10, 1964.
Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts aus privaten Sammlungen im Lande Bremen, Kunsthalle Bremen, June 30 - September 15, 1985.
Gerhard Richter. Bilder / Paintings 1962-1985, Städtische Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf / Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, January 18 - June 1, 1986.
Gerhard Richter. Landschaften, Sprengel Museum, Hanover, October 4, 1998 - January 3, 1999 (fig. p. 41).
Gerhard Richter, K20 Grabbeplatz, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf. February 12 - May 16, 2005.
Gerhard Richter, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, June 4 - August 21, 2005 (fig. p. 102).
Gerhard Richter. Bilder einer Epoche, Bucerius Kunst Forum, Hamburg, February 5 - May 5, 2011(illu. p.128).

LITERATURE: Dietmar Elger, Gerhard Richter, catalogue raisonné, vol. 1, 1962-1968, Ostfildern 2011, pp. 65-66, no. 10 (fig.).

Gerhard Richter, 36. Biennale in Venedig (Deutscher Pavillon), Essen 1972 (fig. p. 48).
Gerhard Richter. Bilder / Paintings 1962-1985, exhibition catalog Städtische Kunsthalle Düsseldorf et al, 1986 (fig. p. 6).
Gerhard Richter. Werkübersicht / Catalogue raisonné 1962-1993, exhibition catalog Kunst und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn et al, vol. III, Stuttgart 1993 (fig. no. 10).
Christie’s , New York, Contemporary Art Auction, May 3, 1995, lot 32, p. 70 (fig. p. 71).
Ulrich Pohlmann, Eine andere Natur. Das Fotoarchiv des Künstlers von Barbizon bis Gerhard Richter, in: Jahrbuch 13, Bayerische Akademie der Schönen Künste, vol. 1, Munich 1999, p. 432 (illu. p. 433)
Rainer Unruh, Max Beckmann/Gerhard Richter, in: Kunstforum international, Jan./Feb. 1999, p 366.
Dietmar Elger, Gerhard Richter. Maler, Cologne 2002, p. 164.
Armin Zweite, Sehen, Reflektieren, Erscheinen. Anmerkungen zum Werk von Gerhard Richter, in: Exhibition catalog Gerhard Richter, K20 Grabbeplatz, Kunstsammlungen Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, 2005, pp. 19-21 (fig. p. 102).
Dietmar Elger (ed.), Gerhard Richter. Landschaften, Ostfildern 2011 (fig. p. 7).
Dietmar Elger, Das gemalte Foto. Gerhard Richter im Atelier, in: Gerhard Richter, Bilder einer Epoche, exhibition catalog Bucerius Kunst Forum, Hamburg, 2011, p. 68 (fig. p. 128 and p. 197).
Uwe M. Schneede, Kommentiertes Verzeichnis der ausgestellten Werke, in: Gerhard Richter. Bilder einer Epoche, exhibition Bucerius Kunst Forum, Hamburg, 2011, p. 197 (fig. p. 128 and p. 197).
Francesco Zanot, Gerhard Richter, in: Walter Guadagnini (ed.): Photography. From the Press to the Museum 1941-1980, Milan 2013 (illu. p. 219).
Gerhard Richter/Götz Adriani, Gerhard Richter 1962 bis 1969 (interview), in: Die jungen Jahre der alten Meister. Baselitz – Richter – Polke – Kiefer, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, 2019, p. 118.
Armin Zweite, Gerhard Richter. Leben und Werk. Das Denken ist beim Malen das Malen, Munich 2019, p. 224 (illu. p. 224).
Almuth Spiegler, Spielfelder, in: art. Das Kunstmagazin, October 2020, p. 33.

“Gerhard Richter has been making landscape pictures for more than 45 years. In the list of works, with the first entry made in 1962 and consistently kept since, they are mentioned as depictions of Neuschwanstein Castle [catalogue raisonné no. 8, Frieder Burda Collection, Baden-Baden] and as a view of the Alster in Hamburg at night [catalogue raisonné no. 10] as early as for the following year. No other subject has fascinated Gerhard Richter as much or occupied him for a comparable period of time. The number of landscapes has remained rather small. What makes for their significance is the outstanding status that they claim in the oeuvre in general and for the consistency with which Gerhard Richter has repeatedly placed them in an intuitive dialogue with other motifs and, above all, his abstract pictures.”

Dietmar Elger, Landschaft als Modell, in: Dietmar Elger (ed.), Gerhard Richter. Landscapes, Ostfildern 2011, p. 17.

“Gerhard Richter [..] is considered [..] the world’s most important post-war painter. More than a million people saw his most recent retrospective, and his work is celebrated by both art history as well as the art market: paintings by Richter, especially earlier ones, fetch hammer prices in double-digit millions at international auctions.”
Catrin Lorch, Süddeutsche Zeitung, June 18/19 2016, no. 139, p. 24.

The “Front Yard Show” in Wuppertal - Richter’s New Realism
The spontaneous show in the garden, or rather the front lawn, of the Wuppertal Galerie Parnass on a cold day in February 1964 was seminal for Richter’s artistic career. The present painting “Alster (Hamburg)” was part of this legendary event. The gallery owner Rolf Jährling recalls: “One day in 1964, the group of ‘Capitalist Realists’, that’s Fischer-Lueg, Richter and Polke, called to see if they could show their stuff. 'Sure,' I said, 'of course!' And a little later the bell actually rang and there they were at my door with a small delivery truck with a tarpaulin [= waterproof tarpaulin]. “‘Come out,’ they said.” (quoted from: Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, Konrad Lueg and Manfred Kuttner, at that time still students at the Düsseldorf Academy, presented their paintings, leaning them against the trees and bushes in the gallery's snow-covered front garden. Jährling documented this creative attack by the up-and-coming young generation of artists with his Minox camera. His photographs from that time also show Richter's fascinating city view “Alster (Hamburg)”. It is based on an detail from a photograph published in the magazine “Stern” in October 1963. This detail, along with other iconic Richter motifs, is now part of Richter's famous “Atlas” collection. In addition, plate 10 also shows a photograph from a Kodak advertisement Richter took from ‘Stern’ magazine for his famous black-and-white painting “Motorboot” (1965, permanent loan at State Art Collections, Dresden), as well as the newspaper clippings used for the photo paintings “Bomber” (1963) or “Mother and Daughter (B.)” (1965), which shows Brigitte Bardot with her mother. The “Front Lawn Show” of the young Düsseldorf painters convinced the Wuppertal gallerist Jährling: He dedicated the first exhibition “Neue Realisten. Richter, Polke, Lueg” to these promising young representational positions in art on November 20, 1964. As early as in the summer of 1964, “Alster (Hamburg)” was shown in Munich as part of Richter’s first solo exhibition “Gerd Richter. Fotobilder” at Galerie Friedrich and Dahlem. In addition to the wonderfully blurred Hamburg panorama, they also showed other early photo pictures like “Tisch” (1962), “Schloss Neuschwanstein” (1963), “Kuh” (1964), “Bomber” (1963) and “Familie am Meer” (1964), all of which are owned by important international museums and private collections today.

The Photo Paintings – Perfect Balance Between Sharpness And Blur
Standing in front of Richter's first townscape "Alster (Hamburg)", the wide Hamburg panorama from 1963 in evening light, one quickly senses the outstanding quality of Richter's painting: It is the fascinating combination of closeness and distance that Richter's unique painting technique evokes. Richter right away conceals what he initially brought onto the canvas in finest details behind a delicate painterly veil of an even, gentle painting with soft brushes. However, it's not just the technical mastery that impresses in "Alster (Hamburg)", but also Richter's keen eye in screening and selecting the photographic material from print media and private photo albums, and which ultimately helps him to identify the perfect image section of the printed template. This process becomes particularly well comprehensible in the rich contrast city silhouette of “Alster (Hamburg)”, since the photograph published in “Stern” on October 27, 1963 has an even stronger panorama format. Richter only selected the right half of the picture as basis for his painting, where the tree branches only partially reveal the view of the city skyline on the other bank of the Alster.

In the present work he entirely focuses on the fascinating contrast between fore- and background, between light and shadow and an objectivity that is partially covered by the abstract structures of the branches and thus additionally veiled. “Alster (Hamburg)” shows a wonderful combination of the representational elements of a townscape with the abstract, superimposed structures of the foreground, thus anticipating elements that can be found in landscape paintings from the late 1990s, such as “Sommertag” (1999) (Albertina, Vienna), and which, in return, are ultimately decisive for Richter's late abstract works. Richter realized not only the finest transitions by using a wide variety of brushes, but even attained a completely homogeneous pictorial surface: “I blur to make everything the same, everything equally important and equally unimportant. I smudge so it doesn't look artsy and crafty, but technical, smooth and perfect. I blur so that all the parts move together a little. I might also wipe out what I regard as too much unimportant information.” (Gerhard Richter, Notizen 1964/65, quoted from: Gerhard Richter, Text, Cologne 2008, p. 33).
“Alster (Hamburg)” is an outstanding testimony to Richter's artistic struggle for the perfect balance between sharpness and blur, between photorealistic perfection and the seemingly random process of subsequent blurring, which hides the objective motifs behind a gentle veil and thereby creates that unique poetic otherworldliness that characterizes Richter's painterly work.

Pure Painting – The Townscape in Richter's Work

Richter's dreamful view of Hamburg, "Alster (Hamburg)," is the first townscape in the official counting in Richter's oeuvre, which Richter began with the painting "Tisch" from 1962, created after he had moved to Düsseldorf. Richter completed his studies at the University of Fine Arts in his hometown Dresden with a diploma in mural painting in the mid-1950s and worked there as a master student, accepting state commissions from the GDR government. During this time, he primarily created murals and an early painterly body of works, of which only a few survived. In retrospect, Richter excluded these works from his official oeuvre. It is said that a Dresden townscape was among these works. As a young art student in Dresden, Richter must have inevitably dealt with the art-historical tradition of veduta painting, as famous panoramic views of Dresden by the Venetian painter Bernado Bellotto, known as Canaletto, executed in fine Old Master painting in the mid-18th century, have always been key pieces of the ‘Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister’ in Dresden. The comparison with Canaletto and the Old Master genre of the townscape, clearly shows how Richter seeks to engage with traditions when implementing this historically significant subject: like Canaletto, he chooses the traditional view of the city from the other side of the river bank. However, by using a photograph as a template, the reduction to black and white color values, and through his unique signature style of oscillating between sharpness and blur, he enters realms of an extremely modern visual language, which, owing to the use of photographic templates, contains elements of American pop art, while he attains a completely unrivaled painterly result.

With his unique way of working, Richter reinvented representational painting at a time when the abstract art of Informalism, “ZERO” and Concrete Art was en vogue in Europe and the shrill, graphic style of Pop Art began to conquer the USA. “New Realists” was the title of the exhibition that Rolf Jährling dedicated to the progressive representational works by the young Düsseldorf art students Richter, Polke and Lueg in November 1964. Apart from the painting “Verwaltungsgebäude”(Administration Building, 1964), today part of the renowned Fisher Collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Richter did not revisit the genre before 1968, when he received a commission from Siemens AG to make the painting “Cathedral Square, Milan” (1968), which was auctioned in New York in 2013 and today holds the fourth highest hammer prices for a Richter painting at an international auction. In the course of his occupation with this painting, he also made a first series of “Stadtbilder” (Townscapes), for which Richter fragmented a large-format aerial painting of Milan into nine individual paintings. Other aerial views of Madrid, Munich, Paris and Frankfurt followed, all of which are in important international private collections and museums today and, with their coarse black-and-white flow, laid the basis for the later mountain and cloud pictures that ultimately led to the gray "Inpaintings".

Gerhard Richter - Internationally Celebrated Artist
Today Gerhard Richter is not only associated with a range of superlatives with regards to the general acknowledgment of his work, but with his success on the international art market: He is nothing less than the most important German artist, whose impressive work has been with utmost appreciation making him one of the most expensive living artists. In 2020, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York honored the epochal work of the exceptional German artist with a grand solo exhibition "Gerhard Richter - Painting After All" (March 4 to July 5, 2020), while the Museum of Modern Art (2002) dedicated the retrospective show "Gerhard Richter. Forty Years of Painting” to an oeuvre that goes from black-and-white photo-based pictures to the late large abstract works in intensive colors. In view of the record prices that Richter’s paintings fetch, his early blurred, representational photo paintings and his later abstract creations are on a par. In our collective memory, the name Gerhard Richter is primarily associated with early works like "Sekretärin" (1963, State Art Collections Dresden), "Motorboot" (1965), "Domplatz, Milan" (1968), "Ema (Akt auf einer Treppe) ”(1966, Museum Ludwig, Cologne), and the so-called RAF cycle" Zyklus 18. Oktober 1977" (1988, Museum of Modern Art, New York). In these photo -based works, Richter not only invented a new objectivity, but also confronted the German post-war society with its contemporary history or - as is the case with the townscapes - with its national identity. Richter's first city view "Alster (Hamburg)" is one of this epochal early works. In 2011, it was part of the grand retrospective "Gerhard Richter. Bilder einer Epoche” at the Bucerius Kunst Forum in Hamburg, alongside other main works from this creative period provided by international lenders (fig. 9 and 10). Even if the respective motifs are usually no more than the formal starting point for Richter, it is precisely what makes the early black-and-white photo paintings so special. Once viewed, you can’t get the unique gentle flow and the glowing blur in a mellow evening light of "Alster (Hamburg)" out of your head. Today most works of similar quality from this early and significant creative phase are in significant international private and museum collections. [JS]

Gerhard Richter
Alster (Hamburg), 1963.
Oil on canvas
€ 1,000,000 / $ 1,080,000
€ 2,105,000 / $ 2,273,400

( frais d'adjudication compris)