Acrylic on canvas
150 x 140 cm / 59 x 55 1/8 in
Recto, signed and dated, upper right: ‘Förg 07
Günther Förg was born in 1952 in the region of Allgäu, Germany. His career began in the early 1970s as student at The Academy of Fine Art Munich. During his studies, Förg developed a practice grounded almost exclusively in grey and black monochrome. These early investigations into gray—also called ‘Gitter’ paintings—demonstrate the beginning of a lifelong commitment to conceptualism. While the artist later incorporated color into his monochrome series, his use of gray represents a neutral foundation from which he conceived his oeuvre.
‘The paintings are like poems instead of constructions; the colours unfold and expose each other, like a line of verse pushes the next line into profile. Sometimes they even rhyme.’
‘Untitled’ (2007) is a vibrant example of Günther Förg’s iconic ‘Spot Paintings’, the last series the artist made before he was taken ill and stopped painting in 2009. The series celebrates the act of painting, drawing on Förg’s earlier painterly practice but reimagining his previous explorations in radically new and extraordinarily innovative ways. The expressive, dynamic brushstrokes and dashes of color which make up ‘Untitled’ convey a playful, chromatic harmony. Förg has transformed the previous lattice structures from his renowned series of ‘Grid Paintings’ into rhythmic, gestural marks that appear to float across the large-scale canvas. Contrasting bright hues of fuchsia, orange and chartreuse green with intersections of mauve and grounding shades of brown, blue and black, this bustling composition reflects the conceptual principles that underpinned Förg’s practice: a formal purism, a sense of the artwork as object and an architectural, analytical interest in space.Read more +
One of the most significant German artists of the postwar generation, Förg is renowned for his experimental and radical oeuvre that engaged profoundly with the legacies of modernism. In his pioneering cross-disciplinary practice, Förg explored the language of abstraction, appropriating tropes from modern art and architecture. His work contains references to modernist masters such as Barnett Newman, Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko and Edvard Munch, all of whom Förg greatly admired. ‘Untitled’ is representative of Förg’s exceedingly original and witty reinterpretations of his artistic influences.
The ‘Spot Paintings’ were partially inspired by photographs Förg saw of Francis Bacon’s studio, which was covered in colorful blotches of paint created when the artist would wipe his brushes on the walls and door of the studio to remove excess paint. This method was all too familiar to Förg, who would frequently work out the value of a color by dabbing pigment from his brush to a paper or cloth surface. In this way, ‘Untitled’, as with his other ‘Spot Paintings’ enacts an irreverent reversal of artistic tradition. Commenting on Förg’s triumphant return to expressive painting in his ‘Spot Paintings’, curator Gavin Delahunty explains: ‘Each canvas conveys decades of attention to the history of art with an emphatic sureness. They are a return, in the sense that they resist the archives of his painterly practice to draw on previous compositional elements that held hidden potential. They are both old and new; and it is this tension that powers these works… His decades-long exercise of looking at gesture, color, line and composition had prepared him for the successful integration of all these elements into painting that had a directness, intensity, and carefree abandon that consolidated and confirmed his long-buried instinctive abilities’. 
[1.] Rudi Fuchs, quoted in Beatrix Ruf, Gavin Delahunty, Megan R. Luke (et al.), ‘Günther Förg: A Fragile Beauty’, New Haven CT: Yale University Press with Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and Dallas Museum of Art, 2018, p. 220.
[2.] Gavin Delahunty, ‘Günther Förg: Apparitions of Modernism’ in Beatrix Ruf, Gavin Delahunty, Megan R. Luke (et al.), ‘Günther Förg: A Fragile Beauty’, New Haven CT: Yale University Press with Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and Dallas Museum of Art, 2018, pp. 72-73.
Celebrating Basel Basel
Günther Förg’s inquiry into architectural interiors is visible in the exhibition ‘Focus: Günther Förg / Bernard Frize’ at Kunstmuseum Basel in 2006. Frize’s endless meanders with fading color were a direct contrast to Förg’s monochromatic abstraction. It is Förg’s later works on canvas, such as ‘Untitled’ (2007) that draw comparisons with Frize’s work.