Gerhard Richter’s Final Colour Chart Painting For Sale

The upcoming Sotheby’s Contemporary Evening Auction in May is set to feature one of Gerhard Richter’s most significant conceptual projects – the final work in his celebrated Color Chart series, 4096 Farben.

This monumental painting from 1974 measures eight feet in length and height and is estimated to fetch between $18-25 million.

The Importance of the Color Chart Concept to Richter

Gerhard Richter‘s fascination with the colour chart concept began in 1966, and he spent the following eight years creating a series of important works that are now regarded as some of the most significant conceptual projects of the last century.

Gerhard Richter's Final Colour Chart Painting For Sale
The present work illustrated on the cover of Gerhard Richter: Catalogue Raisonné, Volume 2: Nos. 199–388, 1968–1976, edited by Dietmar Elger.

Richter’s final work in this celebrated series, 4096 Farben, is denoted for its importance as it appears on the cover of the definitive Catalogue Raisonné of Richter’s work.

The concept of the colour chart and 4096 Farben, in particular, was particularly significant to Richter. He later took this painting as inspiration for an ambitious commission he received to create a stained-glass window at Cologne Cathedral, which was unveiled in 2007.

This magnificent, monumental realization of 4096 Farben now stands as an exact replica of the painting to be offered at Sotheby’s this May.

The Significance of 4096 Farben

Executed in 1974, 4096 Farben is the final painting in Richter’s third and most ambitious series of Color Charts, which occupied his practice between 1973 and 1974.

In these works, Richter introduces greys and greens into his primary palette, creating 1024 distinct hues, four times the number of colours in his previous series. The only work from the series in which Richter replicates each hue four times, 4096 Farben features the maximum number of colour combinations before the difference between one hue and another dissolves before the viewer’s eye.

The exhibition history of 4096 Farben is remarkable. It has hung as the centrepiece of many of the artist’s most significant retrospectives, including his major 1988-1989 exhibition, Gerhard Richter: Paintings, which travelled to the Art Gallery of Ontario, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The painting was also featured in the show, Gerhard Richter: Panorama, at London’s Tate Modern and the Staatliche Museen Zu in Berlin from 2011-2012.

Richter’s Color Chart Series: A Stroke of Luck

Richter described his Color Chart series as a “beautiful stroke of luck” after he was initially inspired by the colour cards he found in paint stores, which he thought were already perfect pictures. Richter painted three distinct series of Color Chart paintings between 1966 and 1974, each progressing in complexity and chromaticity.

While his inaugural series reflected the ready-made quality of industrial paint charts together with the aesthetics of Pop and Minimalist art, by 1971, the artist had abandoned this structure, instead exploring a mechanically progressive series of grids to contain each cell of colour.

Gerhard Richter's Final Colour Chart Painting For Sale
Gerhard Richter’s Cologne Cathedral Window, the design of which is based directly on the present work. Photo Credit: Chris Gascoigne

The Rarity of 4096 Farben at Auction

4096 Farben is one of just three Color Chart paintings to have been offered at auction in the last decade, and the most recent of which, 192 Farben from 1966, realized $20.5 million in October last year – setting a new auction record for a work from this series.

4096 Farben is also one of a limited number of paintings from the series remaining in private hands, with many of Richter’s Color Chart paintings residing in prestigious museum collections around the world.

Conclusion

Gerhard Richter’s final work in his celebrated Color Chart series, 4096 Farben, is a landmark work in contemporary art history. The concept of the colour chart and this painting, in particular, were particularly significant to Richter, who later took this painting as inspiration for an ambitious stained-glass window commission.

This monumental work is one of just three Color Chart paintings to have been offered at auction in the last decade, and it is estimated to fetch between $18-25 million at Sotheby’s New York on May 18.

As the final work in Richter’s most ambitious series of Color Charts, 4096 Farben features the maximum number of colour combinations before the difference between one hue and another dissolves before the viewer’s eye.

The rarity of 4096 Farben at auction makes it a must-see for art lovers and collectors. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness one of the most significant conceptual projects of the last century in person.

Images: Sotheby’s

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