Sotheby’s will auction a 20th century masterwork by Gerhard Richter on 14 May 2013 as one of the highlights of the spring Contemporary Art Evening Auction. The painting titled, “Domplatz, Mailand” which carries an estimate of $30/40 million was a commission work executed for the electronics giant Siemens Elettra. The Brief was to produce a monumental work for their Milan offices in 1968. The canvas was Richter’s most ambitious to date; spanning in excess of 9 by 9 feet, it was the largest figurative work he had created and its sheer technical accomplishment was remarkable. Today, the work stands as the epitome of the artist’s celebrated 1960s photo-painting canon. Domplatz, Mailand hung in Siemens’ offices for 30 years before appearing in a Sotheby’s London auction in 1998 where it was acquired by the esteemed Pritzker family of collectors for a then record price of $3.6 million. It subsequently hung in their Park Hyatt Hotel in Chicago for over a decade. The painting is now being sold by the Hyatt Hotels Corporation. Domplatz, Mailand will be shown in Hong Kong, Zurich and London before the pre-sale exhibition opens in New York on 3 May.
“Domplatz, Mailand returns to Sotheby’s 15 years after setting a new auction record for the artist and just seven months after Sotheby’s established the new benchmark for Richter with Abstraktes Bild (809-4) selling for $34.3 million,” commented Tobias Meyer, Sotheby’s Worldwide Head of Contemporary Art. “The work represents the pinnacle of Richter’s technical achievement and its scale, power and visual impact rivals his celebrated abstract works. This is the work the market has been waiting for and its sale is certain to be an historic event.”
Mark S. Hoplamazian, Hyatt President and CEO commented: “We have been proud to share Gerhard Richter’s Domplatz Mailand with thousands of our guests and visitors to the Park Hyatt Chicago since we opened the hotel over ten years ago. We have a long history of featuring great works of art in our hotels — it elevates the human spirit and enriches the experience of our guests and colleagues. We intend to continue to feature high quality pieces of art – especially in our Park Hyatt hotels – and are hopeful that we will be able to apply a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this painting to fund selected new acquisitions.”
In 1962 Richter famously presented himself as a ‘German Pop Artist’ and Domplatz, Mailand could be considered as his model contribution to this international movement. However, the present work also represents a moment when Richter’s ambitions had advanced well beyond an answer to the advent of American Pop, and had developed into an independent, highly-sophisticated philosophy that would inform his important subsequent cycle of townscape paintings.
Domplatz, Mailand exemplifies a pioneering approach to photographic source material, by which Richter integrated themes of mass media from a unique perspective on the contemporary culture of Europe in the 1960s. With the 19th century shopping center Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II facing the Milan Duomo, Domplatz, Mailand brilliantly juxtaposes the two towering forces of commerce and religion. This rich symbolism coupled with the visual impact of the photo-realism technique, creates one of the breathtaking triumphs of Richter’s oeuvre.
Today, Richter is widely recognized as one of the most important painters of the 20th century, being honored with two major exhibitions in the last decade: the blockbuster show organized by the Museum of Modern Art, New York: Gerhard Richter: 40 Years of Painting (2002-2003), and a mid-career retrospective with the exhibition Gerhard Richter: Panorama, shown at Tate Modern in London and the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 2011 and 2012.