Featuring Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Patti Smith
This episode of Gagosian Premieres will celebrate Gerhard Richter: Cage Paintings—an exhibition presented by Gagosian in New York and Beverly Hills—with Hans Ulrich Obrist, featuring a musical performance by Patti Smith and new choreography created and performed by Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener in response to the work.
One can see, or rather hear, a great example in John Cage’s work of how extensively, cleverly, and sensitively he treats coincidence in order to make music out of it.
Gagosian is pleased to present Gerhard Richter’s Cage paintings, which were shown at Gagosian Beverly Hills in an exhibition that opened in December 2020. The series was a highlight of the artist’s recent retrospective, Gerhard Richter: Painting After All, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Throughout his career, Richter has navigated between naturalism and abstraction, painting and photography, exploring the conceptual, historical, and material implications of various mediums without ideological restraint. In paintings he produced while studying at the Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Germany, in the early 1960s, his imagery derived from magazine and newspaper photographs; he has continued this exploration throughout his career, manipulating it in ways that have inspired subsequent generations of painters. Richter approaches the concept of abstraction with similar rigor, employing varying combinations of process, expressiveness, and chance. The resultant works range from austere monochromes and mirrors to dynamic, layered, and richly chromatic compositions.
Characterized by their large scale and concentrated materiality, the six Cage paintings (2006) are constructed from intersecting lines, fields, and swaths of color applied with a broad squeegee. By varying the force with which he dragged this tool across the canvas, Richter added and, crucially, removed areas of paint to generate a highly unpredictable surface. The paintings are titled after influential composer, artist, and philosopher John Cage (1912–1992), whose music Richter was listening to when he produced the series. Cage’s pursuit of indeterminacy in music, reflected in his use of the I Ching and other chance operations as compositional tools, has always resonated with Richter, who has compared his own process to the act of arranging musical notes into a score.
Shown in conjunction with the Cage paintings is a group of abstract drawings Richter made in a single, characteristically intensive working session during the summer of 2020. Richter’s drawings function as autonomous works and have always been an important part of his oeuvre. In the compositions on view, he makes clear use of an eraser to help direct the graphite, emphasizing the self-reflexive nature of drawing, and echoing, perhaps, the subtractive strategy that the creation of the Cage paintings entails.
A catalogue, including an introduction by Larry Gagosian and a conversation between the artist and Hans Ulrich Obrist, artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries in London, will be published to coincide with the exhibition.
A forthcoming episode of Gagosian Premieres will celebrate the exhibition with Obrist, featuring a musical performance by Patti Smith and new choreography created and performed by Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener in response to the work.
541 West 24th Street
New York, ny 10011
Hours: Tuesday–Saturday 10–1 and 2–6 by appointment
This gallery is temporarily closed and will reopen on April 19, 2021.
In the interest of public health, please read the new guidelines for visiting the 541 West 24th Street gallery.
Hans Ulrich Obrist traces the history behind Richter’s Cage paintings and speaks with the artist about their creation.
Gerhard Richter: Young Gerd
Richard Calvocoressi reflects on the monochrome world of Gerhard Richter’s early photo paintings.
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2021
The Spring 2021 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Gerhard Richter’s Helen (1963) on its cover.
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2020
The Spring 2020 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #412 (2003) on its cover.
Visions of the Self: Jenny Saville on Rembrandt
Jenny Saville reveals the process behind her new self-portrait, painted in response to Rembrandt’s masterpiece Self-Portrait with Two Circles.
Extended through April 3, 2021
December 3, 2020–April 3, 2021
Extended through February 15, 2020
November 8, 2019–February 15, 2020
976 Madison Avenue, New York