Lot 123
  • 123

Gerhard Richter

600,000 - 800,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Gerhard Richter
  • Cage Grid  (Complete Set)
  • signed on the reverse of panel P; signed with the artist's initial on the reverse of panels A-O; each numbered 10/16 on the reverse
  • giclée print on paper mounted on aluminum, in 16 parts
  • Each: 29 1/2 by 29 1/2 in. 75 by 75 cm.
  • Overall: 118 1/8 by 118 1/8 in. 300 by 300 cm.
  • Executed in 2011, this work is number 10 from an edition of 16 plus 4 artist's proofs.


Private Collection, Europe
Acquired by the present owner from the above


Berlin, me Collectors Room, Gerhard Richter – Editionen 1965-2011, February - May 2012 (another example exhibited)
Beirut, Beirut Art Center, Gerhard Richter – Beirut, April - June 2012 (another example exhibited)
Turin, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Gerhard Richter: Edizioni 1965–2012 dalla Collezione Olbricht, January - April 2013 (another example exhibited)
Dusseldorf, K20 Grabbeplatz, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Gerhard Richter – Die Kunst im Plural, February - March 2014 (another example exhibited)


Hubertus Butin, Stefan Gronert and Thomas Olbricht, eds., Gerhard Richter: Editions 1965-2013 Catalogue Raisonné, Ostfildern, 2014, cat. no. 151, p. 323, illustrated in color

Catalogue Note

Gerhard Richter’s renowned Cage Grid is a visionary reworking of the celebrated 2006 painting Cage 6; a painting that forms part of a series of six works inspired by the avant-garde composer John Cage that are currently on display in a specially dedicated room at the Tate Modern, London. In response to Cage’s ambient experiments in sound and silence, the Cage compositions evoke a sense of chance through abstraction, color and paint. Executed in 2011 as a limited edition of high-quality giclée prints, Richter chose to divide the image into 16 equal panels to form the present work, thus adding a level of geometric abstraction and structure to the myriad painted eddies of the original. Each panel is posed as a detailed microcosm of the larger abstract work, and once combined they appear like divided windows that recall the artist’s monumental installation of stained-glass at Cologne Cathedral. The equidistant spacing between each panel furthermore accentuates Richter’s comprehension of illusion and space.

Revered as one of Richter’s most significant abstract series’ to date, the six Cage paintings were first exhibited in the German Pavillion at the Venice Biennale in 2007 and were subsequently featured at the Tate Modern Retrospective Panorama in 2011, later traveling to Staatliche Museen in Berlin and the Musée national d’art moderne, Paris. While on view in the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, the Cage works were strategically faced across from another musically inspired series; Richter’s Bach paintings. Through this juxtaposition the cohesive underlying concepts and the contrasting individual sentiments became overtly apparent. The scale, textured surface, layering and erasure of Cage 6 that is made possible through Richter’s illustrious squeegee, create the elusive visual equivalent of Cage’s syncopated percussions whereas the Bach series evokes the triumphant visual equivalent of a classical string quartet. In the words of Robert Storr at the conclusion of his book on the Cage series: "In his own idiom, and for his own reasons, [the Cage paintings] are Richter's beautiful way of saying nothing, and as such, of once more declaring his uncompromising independence."

Throughout Richter’s oeuvre we witness abstract formulations vibrating and coming to life through chance, texture and saturated color that derive from the artist’s absolute mastery of paint and adoption of unusual techniques. Though the squeegee technique that has become synonymous with Richter’s work may reveal the methods behind the original Cage 6 painting, the present work forces us to view the image under new circumstances – as fragmented variables that create a whole.  Inky greens, traces of vibrant teal, muted whites, and a smattering of bright yellow move across the surface as if echoing sound waves, yet the fragmentary arrangement of 16 parts at once become a metaphor for the modulation and digitization of music whilst echoing the '16 bar blues' which is considered by many to be the catalytic element that inspired modern music as we know it today. 

Engulfed within a grid with countless permutations, the sixteen giclée prints allow one to endlessly examine the myriad of arrangements and minute details on offer. The striations and smears of malleable paint of the original are reduced to a sheer two dimensions, separated only by negative space that serves to examine the nature of painting itself. It is testament to the genius of Richter that he can take a wild and passionate work like Cage 6 and transform it into something even more harmonious by utterly changing how it can be perceived.  These Cage works are not only a tremendous achievement of visual art, they are also hold powerful personal resonance with the artist who – in response to Nicholas Serota’s inquiry that linked Vermeer, Bach, and Cage – justly explained the series as being “neither contrived, nor surprising and smart, not baffling, not witty, not interesting, not cynical. It can’t be planned and it probably can’t even be described. It’s just good.”