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Sailors

Matrosen
Sailors

1966 150 cm x 200 cm Catalogue Raisonné: 126

Oil on canvas

This painting depicts seven men in sailor’s uniforms, facing the viewer. Five of the men are shown standing while two further men are kneeling in front of them. Executed in a monochrome palette, its blurred contours give the painting the appearance of an out-of-focus photograph in which the motif seems to elude the viewer. About this at-the-time characteristic blurring in his paintings Richter asserts: “I blur things to make everything equally important and equally unimportant.”1

The work is based on a newspaper clipping that can be found on sheet 12 of Atlas, Richter’s collection of source material. The painting is not a one-to-one copy of the source image however as Richter altered the composition somewhat and two of the men in the photograph do not appear in the final work.

Group portraits such as this are a significant element in Richter’s early oeuvre. Starting in 1963 with the painting Party [CR 2-1], the subject recurs in his work throughout the 1960s: the 1964 paintings Family [CR 30], Negroes (Nuba) [CR 45]; Swimmers [CR 90] and Nurses [CR 93], both executed in 1965; and The Liechti Family [CR 117] that was painted in 1966, the same year as Sailors, to name but a few.

Sailors, as all of the works mentioned above, is based on a photographic source. Richter chose to paint from photographs because “the photograph is the most perfect picture. It does not change; it is absolute, and therefore autonomous, unconditional, devoid of style. Both in its way of informing, and in what it informs of, it is my source.”2


When asked what the work means to him today, Richter replied: “I like that it is so very delicate and so blurred. The source image is from the same time I painted the picture. That was the first time since WW2 that we had seen pictures of the military. I myself was never in uniform. When I look at it now I remember particularly how strange and mysterious these men and their world seemed to me back then.”3

 

1 Gerhard Richter – Text: Writings, Interviews and Letters 1961-2007, Dietmar Elger and Hans Ulrich Obrist (Eds.), Thames & Hudson, London, 2009, p. 33.

2 Ibid., p. 30.

3 Tittel, C. (2010) Gerhard Richter – Die Hälfte im Museum ist Müll [Gerhard Richter – Half of what’s in museums is rubbish], Welt Online [online], http://www.welt.de/kultur/article9843144/Gerhard-Richter-Die-Haelfte-im-Museum-ist-Muell.html (accessed 24/09/2010).


Notes prepared by editorial team

Sotheby's, New York, USA: 09 November 2010

Estimate: USD 6,000,000 – 8,000,000
Sold For:
$ 13,242,500 (incl. buyer’s premium)

This artwork is based on an image included in Atlas:

This artwork was shown in the following exhibitions:

This artwork is included in the following publications:

Title Author Date

Issue

30 January 2018

Publisher

University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis

Details

Softcover, 352 pages

ISBN

978-1-5179-0045-8

Language

English

Category

Monographs

...

More Details
The Truth is Always Grey. A History of Modernist Painting Guerin, Frances 2018

Issue

01 January 2009

Publisher

DuMont, Köln

Details

Hardback, 176 pages

ISBN

9783832191542

Language

German

Category

Solo Exhibitions

Exhibitions

The catalogue of the exhibition Gerhard Richter. Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, London in 2009 focuses on Richter's portraiture.

...
More Details
Die Porträts von Gerhard Richter Moorhouse, Paul 2009

Issue

01 January 2009

Publisher

National Portrait Gallery Publications, London

Details

Hardback, 176 pages

ISBN

9781855143975

Language

English

Category

Solo Exhibitions

Exhibitions

The catalogue of the exhibition Gerhard Richter. Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, London in 2009 focuses on Richter's portraiture.

...
More Details
Gerhard Richter. Portraits. Painting Appearances Moorhouse, Paul 2009

Issue

01 January 2009

Publisher

University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL

Details

Hardback, 408 pages

ISBN

9780226203232

Language

English

Category

Monographs

Gerhard Richter has been widely regarded as a publicity shy artist. However, the biography Gerhard Richter. A Life in Painting gives an insight into Richter’s personal history as well as into the development of his artistic œuvre.

...
More Details
Gerhard Richter. A Life in Painting Elger, Dietmar 2009

Issue

01 January 2008

Publisher

DuMont, Köln

Details

Softcover, 415 pages

ISBN

9783832190651

Language

German

Category

Monographs

Notes

Corrected and extended new edition.

Gerhard Richter has been widely regarded as a publicity shy artist. However, the biography Gerhard Richter, Maler gives an insight into Richter’s personal history as well as into the development of his artistic œuvre.

...
More Details
Gerhard Richter, Maler Elger, Dietmar 2008

Issue

01 January 2002

Publisher

DuMont, Köln

Details

Hardback, 420 pages

ISBN

9783832158484

Language

German

Category

Monographs

Gerhard Richter has been widely regarded as a publicity shy artist. However, the biography Gerhard Richter, Maler gives an insight into Richter’s personal history as well as into the development of his artistic œuvre.

...
More Details
Gerhard Richter, Maler Elger, Dietmar 2002
Gerhard Richter: Atlas Zweite, Armin 1989
Gerhard Richter. Bilder = Paintings 1962 - 1985 Harten, Jürgen / Hering, Karl-Heinz / Honisch, Dieter / Loock, Ulrich / Ronte, Dieter / Elger, Dietmar 1986

Issue

01 January 1977

Publisher

Musée national d'art Moderne, Paris

Details

Softcover, 73 pages

ISBN

2858500290

Language

French

Category

Solo Exhibitions

Exhibitions

...

More Details
Gerhard Richter Buchloh, Benjamin H. D. 1977

Issue

01 January 1972

Publisher

Museum Folkwang, Essen

Details

Hardback, 154 pages

Language

Italian, German, English

Category

Solo Exhibitions

Exhibitions

...

More Details
Gerhard Richter. 36. Biennale di Venezia, Padiglione tedesco = 36. Biennale in Venedig, Deutscher Pavilion = 36. Biennale in Venice, German Pavilion Honisch, Dieter / Helms, Dietrich / Honnef, Klaus / Ohff, Heinz / Dienst, Rolf Gunther / Schön, Rolf / Polke, Sigmar 1972

Issue

01 January 1971

Publisher

Edition René Block, Berlin

Details

Hardback, 193 pages

Language

German

Category

Monographs

Notes

Published in two volumes: Grafik des Kapitalistischen Realismus 1: Werkverzeichnisse bis 1971; Grafik des Kapitalistischen Realismus 2: Werkverzeichnisse der Druckgrafik, September 1971 - May 1976

...

More Details
Grafik des Kapitalistischen Realismus. KP Brehmer, Hödicke, Lueg, Polke, Richter, Vostell. Werkverzeichnisse bis 1971 Block, René / Vogel, Carl 1971

Issue

01 January 1967

Publisher

studio b, Bamberg

Details

Softcover, 12 pages

Language

German

Category

Group Exhibitions

Exhibitions

...

More Details
Pop art? Die Wirklichkeit in neuer Sicht Regus, Annemarie / Regus, Fritz / Grohmann, Will / La Motte, Manfred de / Ohff, Heinz / Strelow, Hans 1967

Issue

01 January 1967

Publisher

Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart

Details

Softcover, 84 pages

Language

German

Category

Group Exhibitions

Exhibitions

...

More Details
Figurationen. Horst Antes, George Baselitz, Sine Hansen. Fritz Köthe, Uwe Lausen, Konrad Lueg, Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter, Heinrich Richter, Michael Schoenholtz, Lambert Maria Wintersberger, Paul Wunderlich Honisch, Dieter 1967

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