Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction


Gerhard Richter
B. 1932
giclée print on paper mounted on aluminium, in 16 parts
each: 75 by 75 cm. 29 1/2 by 29 1/2 in.
overall: 300 by 300 118 1/8 by 118 1/8 in.
Executed in 2011, this work is number 9 from and edition of 16 plus 4 artist's proofs.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report


Tate Modern, London
Acquired from the above by the present owner


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)

Catalogue Note

Cage Grid (Complete Set) magnificently adapts Gerhard Richter’s celebrated and widely-acclaimed painting Cage 6 into a visionary work of geometric abstraction using sixteen giclée prints mounted on sleek aluminium. Currently on loan at Tate Modern, London, and formatively exhibited at the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007, Cage 6 forms part of Richter’s most celebrated cycle of six ‘Abstrakte Bilder’ informed by the revered avant-garde composer John Cage. Here Richter’s lyrical interpretation of the American composer’s tranquil acceptance of nothingness is rendered under entirely new circumstances, as each fragmentary panel offers a detailed, striking microcosm of the larger abstract work. Mounted at equidistant intervals, the panels of the present composition form a powerful geometric structure of negative space, locking the original composition behind a rigid set of white bars. This radiant geometric spatiality recalls Richter’s earlier work such as Fenstergitter, or Window Grid (1968), as well as the analytical organisation of his famed colour chart painting 16 Farben (1974), the latter of which also illuminates a grid of sixteen saturated colours. In the composition of Cage Grid (Complete Set) the elegant striations of the original Cage 6 painting executed in the artist’s Cologne studio in 2006 are reduced to sheer two-dimensionality, yet Richter’s singular technique of layering and erasure in inky green, sapphire, teal and sedimentary white appears equally vibrant upon the surface of this lustrous new medium. 

While a distinctive sense of flatness distinguishes the present composition, the artist’s celebrated employment of the squeegee is unmistakeable in Cage Grid (Complete Set), where Richter manipulated the instrument with astonishing mastery upon the surface of the original canvas. Thus in this work Richter’s audience witnesses the artist’s near total eclipse of the brush in a complete transformation and contradiction of traditional pictorial expression. Curator Dieter Schwarz boldly claims, “The term ‘abstract painting’ here no longer denotes a chapter in the history of art… Richter’s abstraction has no organic dimension: it does not mark the culmination of a chronological development. Rather, it looks back to the starting point of painting, to the medium’s preconditions and foundations, adopting a position predicated on a lack of precedence” (Dieter Schwarz cited in: Exh. Cat., Basel, Fondation Beyeler, Gerhard Richter: Picture/Series, 2014, p. 28). In the present work Richter has achieved such ingenious abstraction through the use of the squeegee as unrivalled artistic device, which in turn operates as a magnified eraser, smearing pre-applied pigment in varying thicknesses across the surface of the composition in an action that resembles the process of silkscreen. Significantly, the edge of Richter’s squeegee was transparent Plexiglas, permitting the artist to observe both sides of the blade as he swiftly moved it across the surface of the original canvas. As such, Cage 6 and its incredibly innovative reproduction in Cage Grid (Complete Set) spectacularly illuminate the German master’s true command of technique and his highly unique process of image-making.

The title of the present work prominently suggests that the impact of Cage on Richter is extraordinary, and the link between their respective work momentous. Richter himself poignantly asserted of the prolific composer, “He gave me legitimisation” (Gerhard Richter cited in: Robert Storr, Gerhard Richter: The Cage Paintings, London 2009, p. 55). In the eighties and early nineties, Richter attended a number of concerts in Cologne where Cage performed, however the interaction between the two never crossed the threshold of a stage. Yet both luminaries were concerned with the notions of chance, absence and the obsolete in their work. Indeed, Richter’s investigation into abstraction, colour and the movement of pigment directly mirrored Cage’s avant-garde experiments in sound, silence and the flow of tonal registers. Both were masterful innovators in their respective fields. Robert Storr asserts of Cage, “No one else had touched so many creative people, of so many varieties and so many generations in so many places. Globally, Cage personified the post-war pollination of the arts; at once mentor and muse, he was fusion incarnate” (Ibid., p. 51). While the composer died in 1992, Richter returned to his classical repertoire while completing the present cycle of abstract works, which can be seen as a transformative codification and interpretation of Cage’s scores in their exquisite chromatic shifts, dragged colours and slathering of thick pigments. The very idea of Richter’s abstraction also related to Cage’s own philosophy in his avowal, “I don’t want to mean anything. I want to be” (John Cage cited in: Ibid., p. 70). In a similar fashion, Richter’s illustrious works persist, powerfully leaving viewers to their own reading of the brilliant schematics of sweeping pigment. In the monumental composition Cage Grid (Complete Set), Richter’s comprehensive synthesis of colour, space, chance and the sublime is prodigiously exhibited, echoing Cage’s remarkable statement: “I have nothing to say and I am saying it” (John Cage cited in: Ibid., p. 56).

Contemporary Art Day Auction