Driving into a carwash you relinquish your car over to a large machine going through an automated process of soaping, scrubbing, and rinsing. During a recent carwash session sitting in the driver’s seat staring at the soap and water flowing over the windshield, I immediately was reminded of the beauty of Gerhard Richter’s art.
Richter is known for a variety of approaches to making paintings, but one of his well-known practices is squeegee painting. He commented on his process during a conversation with Nicholas Serota:
With a brush you have control. The paint goes on the brush and you make the mark. From experience you know exactly what will happen. With the squeegee you lose control. Not all control, but some control. It depends on the angle, the pressure and the particular paint I am using.
During last month’s auction at Sotheby’s in London, Gerhard Richter’s squeegee painting, Abstraktes Bild (1986), sold for $46.3 million – a record for a living European artist.