Gerhard Richter - Evening & Day Editions London Thursday, June 6, 2024 | Phillips
  • “Of course, pictures of objects also have this transcendental side to them. Every object, being part of an ultimately incomprehensible world, also embodies that world; when represented in a picture, the object conveys this mystery all the more powerfully, the less of a “function” the picture has.”
    —Gerhard Richter

    Gerhard Richter’s Loo Paper of 1994 depicts an image of an object so inherently familiar that it is almost unnerving when presented under this haunting guise. With its origins in a photograph that was later transformed into monochromatic swathes of paint in 1965, one would assume such a mundane, everyday object would be exhausted of aesthetic potential after two trials. However, three decades later Richter once more returned to the subject to produce the present cibachrome photographic edition. That the artist continued to probe the object for artistic opportunity draws into question Richter’s self-affirmed random selection of subject matter, which on occasion he claimed had no potential of possible emotional connection. Rather, Richter’s selection of ordinary subject matter was not as arbitrary as he liked to pretend.


    Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1950 (replica of 1917 original), Philadelphia Museum of Art. Image: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 125th Anniversary Acquisition. Gift (by exchange) of Mrs. Herbert Cameron Morris, 1998, Artwork: © Association Marcel Duchamp / ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2024

    Loo Paper is a nod to Marcel Duchamp’s readymades that greatly inspired Richter after he witnessed their northern European retrospective tour in 1965. In particular, Loo Paper echoes Duchamp’s iconic Fountain of 1917, a urinal presented on its side and signed “R. Mutt”. Infamously, Fountain was rejected from the Society of Independent Artists exhibition in New York City, which claimed to have been open to all. By their very definition, readymades are mass-produced and non-unique, therefore subverting traditional notions of originality in the artistic process. It was this idea that made a strong impression on Richter, triggering him to shift his artistic approach. He recognised the potential of the readymade to free painting from its mimetic function, opening new desirable possibilities such as pictorial objectification and the refusal of traditional notions of originality and authorship. Through photographing his own paintings and then utilising these photographs as source material, as in the process of creating Loo Paper, Richter evokes Dadaist tenets by blurring the boundaries between original and copy, past and present.

    “The invention of the readymade seems to me to be the invention of reality, in other words the radical discovery that reality in contrast with the view of the world image is the only important thing.”
    —Gerhard Richter

    Through repeated reproduction, Richter transforms a mediocre, household object into something bewilderingly powerful and uncanny. Crucially, Richter did not simply reproduce his painting in photographic form; he made intentional deviations. In re-photographing his former works the artist reflects on their distinct formal aspects, making subtle modifications detected only by the scrupulous eye. As Richter stated, “I blur things in order to make everything equally important and equally unimportant”. It is this rejection of the transcendental sublime in favor of uncanny unnaturalness that makes Loo Paper such an extraordinary example of the mundane preserved in liminal space, defying evanescence. The object’s familiarity is lost, balancing in a penumbra defying the grasp of the viewer.

    • Provenance

      The artist
      Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1995

    • Literature

      Hubertus Butin 83

    • Artist Biography

      Gerhard Richter

      German • 1932

      Powerhouse painter Gerhard Richter has been a key player in defining the formal and ideological agenda for painting in contemporary art. His instantaneously recognizable canvases literally and figuratively blur the lines of representation and abstraction. Uninterested in classification, Richter skates between unorthodoxy and realism, much to the delight of institutions and the market alike. 

      Richter's color palette of potent hues is all substance and "no style," in the artist's own words. From career start in 1962, Richter developed both his photorealist and abstracted languages side-by-side, producing voraciously and evolving his artistic style in short intervals. Richter's illusory paintings find themselves on the walls of the world's most revered museums—for instance, London’s Tate Modern displays the Cage (1) – (6), 2006 paintings that were named after experimental composer John Cage and that inspired the balletic 'Rambert Event' hosted by Phillips Berkeley Square in 2016. 

      View More Works


Loo Paper (B. 83)

Cibachrome print, mounted to white cardboard (as issued), the full sheet.
framed 98 x 91 cm (38 5/8 x 35 7/8 in.)
Signed and numbered 2/24 in black felt-tip pen on the label affixed to the reverse of the frame (there was also 1 artist's proof in Roman numerals), published by Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London, contained in the original artist's specified white-washed wooden frame.

Full Cataloguing

£35,000 - 45,000 ♠†

Sold for £40,640

Contact Specialist
+44 20 7318 4024

Rebecca Tooby-Desmond
Specialist, Head of Sale, Editions

Robert Kennan
Head of Editions, Europe

Anne Schneider-Wilson
Senior International Specialist, Editions

Louisa Earl
Associate Specialist, Editions

Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 6 - 7 June 2024