Work of the Week | Günther Förg

We are proud to present our second Work of the Week by the esteemed painter Günther Förg.
Created in 1996, the same year as the beautiful blue gouache which we had the pleasure of showing you earlier this year, today’s work presents itself at first glance as monochromatic gray.
Gray paintings hold an important place in the practice of Günther Förg, beginning during his studies at the Academy in Munich in 1973, and reoccurring throughout his career in ever evolving interpretations until his very last paintings in 2009.
Förg worked in a serial fashion, evolving and sometimes drastically altering the structures of his paintings after long phases of working on a single typology. In a sense, gray paintings are the red thread through Förg’s changing series. It almost seems they are painted with the insights gathered from an iconic painting series, such as his grids or windows, and one could also see a reference to the materiality of his lead paintings.
Our work from 1996 is executed in black gesso on painted cardboard and shows similar gestural strokes and hashes as the now famous grid paintings. The many tones of grey wash are layered with a sponge, resulting in an effect such as streaks on a school chalkboard.
The gray surface shows nuances of color that change with the light. To Förg, gray was the absence of color and simultaneously all colors at once. A negation of color and meaning, but at the same time a wholehearted embrace of painting.
The monochrome gray painting has played a significant role in the German painting tradition of the later 20th century. Certainly, the gray paintings by Gerhard Richter of the 1970s come to mind. Unlike Richter, whose eclecticism and refusal to stick to one style Förg is reminiscent of, Förg continuously reinterprets and redefines his gray painting, making them an essential part of an evolving oeuvre.
Our work captures this important aspect of Förg’s practice in a compact format and in elegant execution. As all works by Förg, it does not conceal its handmade imperfections, but exudes a beautiful tactile fragility.

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Günther Förg, Untitled 1996


Günther Förg
1952, Füssen – 2013, Freiburg im Breisgau

Untitled, 1996
Black Gesso and pencil on black primed light cardboard
50 x 35 cm
Signed top right “Förg 96”
Registered in the Günther Förg archive under the number WVF.96.P.0975
Private collection, Switzerland



Günther Förg (Füssen 1952 – 2013 Freiburg im Breisgau) has been acknowledged as one of the most significant German artists of the post-war generation. In his oeuvre, Förg deals with the heritage of modern art by giving the viewer visual references to previous modern masters. Through an apparently insouciant execution, leaving slight imperfections and therefore evoking signs of human touch, the artist breaks the shining surface of modernism, making us aware of the ubiquity of the past and our relation to it. The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and the Dallas Museum of Art, Texas, have dedicated the major solo retrospective ‘A Fragile Beauty’ to Günther Förg recently (2018-19).