Gerhard Richter’s Eisberg (1982) beats estimate

Gerhard Richter’s Eisberg (1982) led a sale of contemporary art in London last night.

The painting achieved £17.7m ($21.5m), a significant increase on its £12m ($14.5m) estimate.

Eisberg Richter Sothebys

Richter painted this work following a cruise through the straits of Greenland 

It’s one of a handful of photorealistic paintings on this subject that he produced following a cruise through the straits of Greenland.

Richter explained later that his intention was to echo German landscape artist Caspar David Friedrich’s The Wreck of Hope (1823-1824), a famous painting showing a ship wrecked in a desolate and icy landscape.

Richter had divorced his first wife in 1982 and the subject matter gives a good indication of his mental state.

Christie’s comments: “Utterly glorifying the mesmeric, inhuman beauty of Nature in its most uncompromising wild state, Eisberg innovatively foregrounds history and artistic inheritance within the complex debate for painting’s legitimacy in the later Twentieth Century.”

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled (One Eyed Man or Xerox Face) realised £11.9m ($14.4m).

Basquiat Xerox Sothebys

Basquiat's was at the height of his fame in 1982 

That’s a phenomenal result, when you consider it last sold for $23,100 in 1982 (the year it was painted).

In the intervening years it has racked up growth of 20.1% per annum.

No wonder Basquiat is in such high demand.

The piece is typical of the artist’s work from this era and shows a male figure with arms triumphantly raised.

Basquiat was inspired by the achievements of black athletes and musicians, whose ascent to stardom mirrored his own, and regularly included them as a theme in his work.

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