'hopelessly excessive'

March 15 2015

Image of 'hopelessly excessive'

Picture: Guardian

I got a lot of grief from some in the contemporary art world when I expressed amazement at the prices currently achieved (in the Financial Times) by some artists. So it's interesting to hear similar thoughts from none other than Gerhard Richter, who calls todays prices 'hopelessly excessive'. The Guardian reports:

Gerhard Richter, the world-famous German painter, has expressed his incredulity at the astronomical sums paid for his works, calling the art market “hopelessly excessive” and saying that prices are rarely a reflection on quality.

Richter, 83, told the German daily Die Zeit he had watched the outcome of a recent auction at Sotheby’s in London with horror after an anonymous buyer paid £30.4m (€41m, $46.5m) for his 1986 oil-on-canvas, Abstraktes Bild.

We artists get next to nothing from such an auction. Except for a small morsel, all the profit goes to the seller

“The records keep being broken and every time my initial reaction is one of horror even if it’s actually welcome news. But there is something really shocking about the amount,” Richter said.

He said he believed people who paid so much money for his paintings were foolish and foresaw that prices for his art would crash “when the art market corrects itself”, as he was convinced it would.

Seen as the leader of the New European Painting movement which emerged in the second half of the 20th century, Richter made a name for himself with “photo-paintings” that replicate photographs and are then “blurred” with a squeegee or a brush.

The price paid for Abstraktes Bild amounted to a staggering 5,000-fold increase on the price he had originally sold it for, he said.

He told the weekly newspaper that he understood as much about the art market as he did “about Chinese or physics”, and said contrary to a common perception he hardly benefited at all from such sales.

“We artists get next to nothing from such an auction. Except for a small morsel, all the profit goes to the seller,” he said.

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