Lot 133
  • 133

Gerhard Richter

600,000 - 800,000 GBP
Log in to view results
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 2/16 on the reverse
  • giclée print on paper mounted on aluminum, in 16 parts
  • each: 75 by 75 cm. 29 1/2 by 29 1/2 in.
  • overall: 300 by 300 cm. 118 1/8 by 118 1/8 in.
  • Executed in 2011, this work is number 2 from an edition of 16, plus 4 artist's proofs.


Private Collection


Berlin, me Collectors Room, Gerhard Richter – Editionen 1965-2011, February - May 2012 (ed. no. unknown)
Beirut, Beirut Art Center, Gerhard Richter – Beirut, April - June 2012, p. 139, illustrated in colour (ed. no. unknown)
Turin, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Gerhard Richter: Edizioni 1965–2012 dalla Collezione Olbricht, January - April 2013 (ed. no. unknown)
Dusseldorf, K20 Grabbeplatz, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Gerhard Richter – Die Kunst im Plural, February - March 2014 (ed. no. unknown)
Essen, Museum Folkwang, Gerhard Richter - Die Editionen, April - July 2017 (ed. no. unknown)


Hubertus Butin, Stefan Gronert and Thomas Olbricht, Eds., Gerhard Richter: Editions 1965- 2013 Catalogue Raisonné, Ostfildern, 2014, p. 323, no. 151, illustrated in colour (ed. no. unknown)


Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate, although the overall tonality is slightly more saturated in the original. Condition: This work is in very good condition. Extremely close inspection reveals some tiny and unobtrusive wear to some of the extreme outer corner tips.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

“Abstract paintings are fictive models because they show a reality that we can neither see nor describe, but whose existence we can surmise. This reality we characterize in negative terms: the unknown, the incomprehensible, the infinite, and for thousands of years we have described it with ersatz pictures, with heaven, hell, gods, devils. With abstract painting we created a better possibility to approach that which cannot be grasped or understood, because in the most concrete form it shows ‘nothing.’”


quoted in: Exh. Cat., London, Anthony d’Offay Gallery, Gerhard Richter: The London Paintings, 1988, n.p.

“That’s roughly how Cage put it: “I have nothing to say and I am saying it.” I have always thought that was a wonderful quote. It’s the best chance we have to be able to keep on going.”


quoted in J. Thorn-Prikker, Interview with Jan Thorn-Prikker, in Dieter Elger and Hans Ulrich Obrist (eds.), Gerhard Richter: Text, Writings, Interviews and Letters 1961-2007, London 2009, p. 478.

“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.”


Cage: Six Paintings by Gerhard Richter, London 2009, p. 86

Gerhard Richter’s renowned Cage Grid is a visionary reworking of the celebrated 2006 painting Cage - a piece that forms part of a series of six works inspired by the avant-garde composer John Cage 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, colour and paint. Executed in 2011 as a limited edition of high-quality giclee 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 stained glass installation at Cologne Cathedral. The equidistant spacing between each panel further 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 Musee national d’art moderne, Paris. While on view in the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, the Cage works were strategically placed, facing 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, made possible through the use of Richter’s illustrious squeegee, create the elusive visual equivalent of Cage’s syncopated percussions, whereas the Bach series evokes the triumphant harmony 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” (Robert Storr, Cage: Six Paintings by Gerhard Richter, London 2009, p. 86)

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. Throughout Richter’s oeuvre, we witness abstract formulations vibrating and coming to life through chance, texture and saturated colour that derive from the artist’s absolute mastery of paint and adoption of unusual techniques. 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 becomes a metaphor for the modulation and digitization of music and an echo of the ‘16 bar blues’ which is considered by many to be the catalytic element that inspired modern music as we know it today.

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. Engulfed within a grid with countless permutations, the sixteen giclee 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. These Cage works are not only a tremendous achievement of visual art, they 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” (Gerhard Richter quoted in: Exh. Cat., London, Tate Modern, Gerhard Richter. Panorama. A Retrospective, 2011, p. 17).