Gerhard Richter’s series of six ‘Cage’ prints (P19, 2020) were based off his monumental ‘Cage Paintings’, created in 2006. For the Gagosian Gallery premiere in June 2021 they were accompanied by a recital featuring rock icon Patti Smith. “Everybody has a song which is no song at all”, said Smith. “It is a process of singing and when you sing you are where you are”. Her evocative words capture the essence of the exchange between the painting and print.

In both the paintings and the prints there is an active moment: it is the song in the process of being sung. It has its own quality and offers itself as a unique experience. If the original ‘Cage Paintings’ are monumental fields of colour, which cocoon and envelope the spectator, the small square print ‘Cage’ is intimate. Yet, the two are also profoundly linked as they both provide a visionary colour experience: in the case of the print and painting ‘Cage 6’ a texture of aqua greens, citrus yellows, black and Prussian blues.

Richter created the ‘Cage Paintings’ while listening to the experimental music of John Cage. His approach to the paintings and prints resonates central tenets of Cage’s practice, in particular the musician’s pursuit to eliminate the ego in his music. This ongoing concern, for Cage, reflected his deep interest in Buddhism and its non-dualistic philosophy that conceives the boundaries of the ego as an impediment in the experience of a unified consciousness. The notion of eliminating the artistic ego was already central to Richter’s aesthetic. In the ‘Cage Paintings’, he denied the handmade quality of traditional painting. Refusing to use a painter’s brush, which has associations of the personal touch, he fashioned his famous squeegee from a Perspex bar and a handle. This heavy apparatus allowed him to wipe paint across the canvas with a mechanical action that was almost slick. By adding further vertical or horizontal strips of colour, he eliminated the layer before it.

Printmaking allows Richter to extend his practise and further develop his aesthetic of non-involvement since mechanically reproduced prints are further removed from the artist. In the case of ‘Cage’, the work is one stage further removed since the prints are based on photographs of the original painting. While this technique, with its effacement of individuality, reflects the idea of the ego as an impediment, Richter’s fields of shimmering colour could be equated to the spiritual concept of an elevated state of balance.

In both its painted and printed form, ‘Cage’ is a series that incorporates dynamic bodily movement and an emotive contemplation of colour. In an attempt to create works that can truly exist autonomously, entirely removed from the artist’s ego, Richter has produced images of intense philosophical and sensorial weight.


P19-1, P19-2, P19-3, P19-4, P19-5, P19-6


100 x 100 cm each


Diasec-mounted Giclée print on aluminium composite panel

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Condition report available upon request


We estimate that the earliest completion date for delivery will be three weeks from the date of purchase. Timing is dependent on COVID-19 restrictions and delays.

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