Like his earlier squeegee abstractions, the Cage paintings are the outcome of several layers of painting and erasure. Their surfaces are animated by lines where the squeegee has paused, by brushstrokes, other scrapings, and areas where the skin of oil paint has dried and rippled. Some passages of paint evoke the surface of a gently running river, or a veil of mist over autumnal yellows. Elsewhere paint seems much more material, recalling the coarse surface of a concrete wall.
Richter was listening to the music of John Cage while he worked on these paintings and titled them after the composer. He has long been interested in Cage’s ideas about ambient sound and silence, and has approvingly quoted his statement ‘I have nothing to say and I am saying it’.
Richter is also drawn to Cage’s rejection of intuition as well as total randomness, planning his compositions through structures and chance procedures. While there are no direct links between any particular work in this series and any composition by Cage, some critics have suggested affinities between the two figures’ approaches and between the constant flux in Cage’s music and the space created by Richter’s paintings.
Gerhard Richter was born in Dresden in 1932. He lives and works in Cologne.
Curated by Mark Godfrey.