GERHARD RICHTERGerman b. 1932

The present work is an excellent example of Richter's abstract painting in oil on paper. The artist has revisited this pairing of medium and support intermittently throughout his career—often in series produced over a number of years—and this work dates from his most prolific period. Between the years 1983 and 1989, Richter painted over fifty oils on paper, using sponges and squeegees in addition to brushes to create a wide range of textural and chromatic effects. In 1.10.83 thick layers of the squeegee's blur are overlaid with raised paint and long horizontal brushstrokes that cross and obscure the veils of paint beneath. As his notebooks from this period attest, painting is for Richter an existential process of investigation. Here the leveling action of the squeegee is juxtaposed with the marks of the artist's brush, creating a tension between discipline and chance: as Richter has explained, “With a brush you have control. The paint goes on the brush and you make the mark. From experience you know exactly what will happen. With the squeegee you lose control. Not all control, but some control”. The impersonal, yet nonetheless virtuosic quality of works such as 1.10.83 prompted Robert Storr, who curated the artist's forty-year retrospective, to dub him “our great painter of distance.”

GERHARD RICHTERGerman b. 1932

Richter is one of the most influential painters of the post-World War II generation. Over the course of more than fifty years, he has systematically explored the fundamental principles of painting, alternating between abstract and representational imagery. Born in Soviet controlled Dresden, Richter trained in a Socialist Realist style at the city’s official art school. In 1961 he settled in Dusseldorf, home of the renowned Kunstakademie. There, he immersed himself in the history of modern art, renewing his studies under the abstract painter Karl Otto Götz. Dusseldorf at this time was a dynamic environment for a young artist, as Pop and Conceptual art had begun to challenge the orthodoxies of modernist painting. Richter incorporated this interrogative spirit into his own practice, dedicating himself to exploring the limits and possibilities of contemporary painting. The result has been an oeuvre of staggering breadth that ranges from geometric and gestural abstraction, to photographically derived landscapes, still-lifes, and portraits.

Richter is one of the most accomplished living artists at work today. In 1988, he was given his first North American retrospective, which was co-organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. In 2002, the Museum of Modern Art, New York mounted a forty-year retrospective of his paintings, and an international traveling retrospective of his full career went on view at the Tate Modern, London in October, 2011 to coincide with his 80th birthday.