Vermalung Braun, 1972, Oil on canvas, 27 x 40cm

Biography

Gerhard Richter was born in 1932 in Dresden. Like many of his generation growing up in Germany, his relatives were involved in the Nazi movement. Death and the rigorous ideology of that movement have haunted Richter since childhood and may explain a part of his work. Richter is known for both his abstract works and photo paintings. His photo-based paintings are photographs used as source material but the artist paints over them to give the painting a photographic and yet blurred appearance.

Richter's first solo exhibition was in 1963 at Mobelhaus Berges in Düsseldorf. In 1972 Richter was chosen to represent Germany at the Venice Biennale. The artist's first North American retrospective was organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario in 1988. A critically acclaimed retrospective was held in 2001 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York called, Forty Years of Painting. Richter has also been awarded several prizes, including the Arnold Bode Prize in 1982 and the Oskar Kokoschka Prize in 1985.

Why is Gerhard Richter worth £21 million?

The one living artist who is dominating the art market at present is Gerhard Richter, with a seemingly unquenchable appetite among buyers for his works.

An oil painting by the German artist Gerhard Richter has sold for £21m ($34m) - an auction record for a work by a living artist.

Abstraktes Bild, painted in 1994 , which was owned by rock star Eric Clapton, has been described as a "masterpiece of calculated chaos".

The artwork, expected to fetch £9-12m, was sold to an anonymous bidder at Sotheby's in London on Friday.

A round of applause broke out as the painting went under the hammer.

Gerhard Richter, 80, who lives in Cologne, is considered by some to be the world's greatest living painter.

Earlier this year even hardened auction room habitués were startled by the $21.8m given in New York for a “squeegee” abstract, which set a new world record.

Now, just five months later, a very comparable work has hurtled to a stratospheric £21.3m.
Since the death of Lucien Freud, Richter is widely acknowledged as the greatest living painter today, a reputation only reinforced by the recent retrospectives at the Tate and Neu Nationalgalerie in Berlin.

For the art market his work is seen as unassailably safe, at a time when investment in art is the hot ticket. And, Richter has been a great investment for those who bought early, such as Clapton.
Richter’s late, abstract works are particularly sought after because of their broad appeal: colourful abstracts which can fit into any interior, cannot offend anyone (unlike some of his tougher earlier works which deal with death or politics) and are recognizable trophies which give the owner immense bragging rights.