Oil on aluminium [Alucobond plate]: 14.8(h) x 11.5(w) in /
37.5(h) x 29.2(w) cm
Signed and numbered on the reverse:'839-89' [on a label] / Richter
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Born Dresden 1932
Signed and numbered on the reverse: 839-89 on a label /Richter Oil on aluminium-composite panel (Alucobond):
14 ¾ x 11 ½ in / 37 x 29 cm
Painted in 1996 Provenance: Galerie Fred Jahn, Munich Private collection, Germany Private collection, acquired from the above in 1997 Exhibited: Munich, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Gerhard Richter: Fuji, 3rd-9th March 1997
Literature: Dieter Schwarz, Götz Adriani and Gerhard Richter, Gerhard Richter. Survey, exh cat, Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, Stuttgart and Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne, 2000, p. 27 Hubertus Butin (ed.), Gerhard Richter Editions 1965-2004 Catalogue Raisonné, Ostfildern-Ruit 2004, no. 89 (another from the series illustrated in colour, p. 238) Dietmar Elger, Gerhard Richter, Maler, DuMont, Köln, 2008, pp. 217, 297 Dietmar Elger, Gerhard Richter: A Life in Painting, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2009, pp. 193, 267 Hubertus Butin, Stefan Gronert and Thomas Olbricht (eds.), Gerhard Richter Editions 1965-2013, Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern, 2014, no. 89, p. 260 (another from the series illustrated in colour), p. 44 Hubertus Butin, Gerhard Richter, Unikate in Serie /Unique Pieces in Series, Snoeck, Cologne 2017, p. 137 (other works from the series illustrated in colour, pp. 138 and 139)
Richter painted this spectacular series in a sequence of 110 unique works (70 paintings 29 x 37 cm, 40 paintings 37 x 29 cm) in 1996 to help finance the purchase of Atlas, a collection of photographs, newspaper cuttings and sketches that the artist has been assembling since the mid-1960s, by the Städtische Galerie im Lembachhaus, Munich. Dr Dietmar Elger of the Gerhard Richter Archive, suggests the title was inspired by ‘the image of the paintings, especially the horizontal examples of “Fuji”, [which] reminded Richter of the Mount Fuji, that he saw, when traveling in Japan in 1991.’
Writing of Fuji’s complex pictorial structure and the means by which it was achieved, Butin explains: ‘Here Richter no longer used canvas but instead a small-format composite of aluminium and plastic known as Alucobond. This material has a very smooth surface, so that one can use a squeegee to achieve an extremely delicate, highly differentiated distribution of the oil paint. The rigorous basic structure of the painting was provided by three vertical, monochrome stripes on the support in carmine red, cadmium yellow, and chromium oxide green. To these still-wet colors Richter applied a squeegee with white oil paint and drew it very slowly over the middle and lower stripes of paint. Then he applied the squeegee again, but this time to the top edge of the painting, drawing it from top to bottom over the entire surface. He repeated this procedure on all 110 copies in the edition. In the process the white paint mixed with the colours of the ground, and sometimes the squeegee partially tore the red, yellow, and green off the smooth Alucobond and distributed it across the entire surface in a second application. With the simplest means, an extremely subtle, complex structure resulted and in some of the copies a very delicate one. The oil paints and above all the squeegees are highly individual means of production, so ultimately each painting looks different. As in the edition, Green-Blue-Red, the squeegee technique in Fuji brings the principle of chance to bear, since the distribution of the paint with the squeegee cannot be calculated in all its details. From this we can conclude that the principle of the serial in this edition is realized in the form of a production process that is fundamentally always the same but produces variation in the separate copies.’
Richter’s use of the squeegee intensified in the 1990s, layering and removing paint with a wet-on-wet technique which allowed colours to blend into delicate transitions. Dietmar Elger describes the significance of Fuji at this time: ‘On the smooth aluminium-composite surfaces that Richter used for the first time in the Edition Fuji in 1996 (CR 839/1-110), this effect intensifies into a painterly transparency that buoys the illusionistic quality of the paint. “The paintings gain their life from our desire to recognise something in them. At every point they suggest similarities with real appearances, which then, however, never really materialize.” Some of the abstract works bear associative titles that come to Richter after the painting is finished. “When I am painting, I try to destroy every similarity to any representative object that emerges. But the similarity that comes about on its own and shows itself only later is fine with me”.’
Born Dresden 1932
Gerhard Richter was born in Dresden in 1932. He studied at the Dresden Art Academy in East Germany from 1951-56. A few months before the creation of the Berlin Wall, Richter and his first wife Ema fled to Düsseldorf in West Germany. From 1961-64, Richter studied at the Staatliche Kunstakademie, Düsseldorf under Karl Otto Gotz.
Richter met and worked with fellow artists Georg Baselitz, Sigmar Polke and Konrad Fischer-Lueg during the 1960s, forming a group with Polke and Fisher-Lueg called the Capitalist Realists. Richter’s first one-man exhibition was held at Mobelhaus Berges, Düsseldorf in 1963, showing his photo-based painting style for the first time.
In 1967 Richter won the Junger Westen Prize and began to paint series of Colour Charts, Grey Paintings and Portraits. In 1972 he represented Germany at the Venice Biennale and exhibited at Documenta in Kassel, where he also exhibited in 1977, 1982 and 1987. At Documenta in 1982 he was awarded the Arnold Bode Prize and in 1985 in Vienna the Oskar Kokoschka Prize.
The artist first exhibited in the USA in 1973 at the Reinhard Onnasch Gallery. In 1988 the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago held a retrospective of his work. This was followed by a retrospective of Richter’s paintings in 2001 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, curated by Robert Storr.
Richter designed a new stained glass window for the Cologne Cathedral in 2007 (the original was destroyed during WWII) and was made an honorary citizen of Cologne. He has lived and worked there since the early 1980s.
 Hubertus Butin, Stefan Gronert and Thomas Olbricht (eds.), Gerhard Richter Editions 1965-2013, Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern, 2014, pp.44-45.
 Dietmar Elger, Gerhard Richter: A Life in Painting, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2009, pp. 267.