Currently on view at Gagosian’s New York exhibition space, Gerhard Richter reprises his series of Cage paintings, previously shown at the gallery’s Los Angeles exhibition space, and in his expansive Met Museum retrospective, Painting After All. 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. For this body of works, first painted in 2006, the artist renders a series of immense works created using his pioneering squeegee techniques.
Richter approaches the concept of abstraction with a distinct 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. For this body of works, his pieces, which relied in particular on notions of indeterminacy and chance, welcome the interaction of movement and material, his hand tracing its way across unpredictable spaces to arrive at densely fluid movements and interactions.
These works are iconic in their representation of Richter’s late work, and showcase the artist’s relentless reinvention at a distinct highpoint, a body of work that sits as a keystone of his late investigations into the surface of the canvas as a site of multi-layered interactions and counterpoints. Merely by the repetition of his layered paints and aggressive effacements of the canvas, the artist creates contrasts of color and line, scrapes and tears in the fabric of painting history, and a unique point of convergence between the languages of minimalism and abstract expression.
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.
The show closes June 26th.
– D. Creahan
Gerhard Richter: Cage Paintings [Gagosian]