Gerhard Richter's Mao brings 10% increase in UK auction

An auction dedicated to Chairman Mao-themed memorabilia was highlighted yesterday (October 4) by the sale of Gerhard Richter's portrayal of the Chinese leader.

Held in London, the auction saw Richter's 1968 image of Mao Tse-tung sell 10% above its high estimate at £11,000 ($17,800).

Gerhard Richter Mao
Richter's Mao can be seen as a precursor to Warhol's later work

The German artist's early work - such as the piece at auction - was mainly influenced by socialist realism, before he was introduced to American and British pop art. The work is reminiscent of Andy Warhol's better known depiction of Mao, and could be seen as a precursor to the 1973 work. Showing a smiling, blurred image of the leader, the collotype is certainly a more haunting representation.

The work, which was based on a 1967 newspaper photograph of Mao, was numbered 18/22 and signed and dated at the lower right.

Taking our Root Among The Masses Never Change our True Colour
A classic example of communist China posters

Also featuring in the sale was a late 1960s poster entitled Taking our Root Among the Masses, Never Change our True Colour. The piece, presumably created as a propaganda tool for Mao's communist ideals, is a classic representation of two iron workers with a smelting scene in the background. In original watercolour gouache, the poster sold for £7,500 ($12,139).

Elsewhere, a five volume collection of Mao Zedong's selected works sold for £4,000 ($6,474). The first collected edition, second printing, originates from 1945 and was printed and compiled by the Daily Newspaper of the Jin Cha Jin Liberated region.

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