PETER DREHER (1932-2020)
PETER DREHER (1932-2020)

Tag um Tag guter Tag (Day by Day Good Day) Nr. 1692 (Day); Nr. 1693 (Day); Nr. 1694 (Day); Nr. 1695 (Day); Nr. 1696 (Day); Nr. 1697 (Day); Nr. 1698 (Day); Nr. 2360 (Night); Nr. 2361 (Night); Nr. 2362 (Night); Nr. 2363 (Night); Nr. 2364 (Night); Nr. 2365 (Night); Nr. 2366 (Night) [Fourteen Works]

PETER DREHER (1932-2020)
Tag um Tag guter Tag (Day by Day Good Day) Nr. 1692 (Day); Nr. 1693 (Day); Nr. 1694 (Day); Nr. 1695 (Day); Nr. 1696 (Day); Nr. 1697 (Day); Nr. 1698 (Day); Nr. 2360 (Night); Nr. 2361 (Night); Nr. 2362 (Night); Nr. 2363 (Night); Nr. 2364 (Night); Nr. 2365 (Night); Nr. 2366 (Night) [Fourteen Works]
each incised with the respective number (upper center) and signed 'Peter Dreher' (on the reverse); (i-vii) dated '2002' (on the reverse); (vii-xiv) dated '2008' (on the reverse)
oil on linen
each: 10 x 8 in. (25.4 x 20.3 cm.)
Painted in 2002-2008.
Leo Koenig Inc., New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2014

Brought to you by

Julian Ehrlich
Julian Ehrlich Associate Vice President, Specialist, Head of Post-War to Present Sale

Lot Essay

This remarkable group of Peter Dreher paintings is the largest selection of works from the artist’s iconic Tag um Tag gunter Tag series ever to be sold at auction. Dreher began the Tag um Tag gunter Tag [Day by Day good Day] series in 1974, when he committed himself to painting the simplest thing he could imagine: an ordinary drinking glass on a table against a white wall. He continued the practice for over 40 years, and by the time of his death in 2020, Dreher had completed over 5,000 Tag um Tag gunter Tag paintings.

As Lynne Tillman states in her 1996 interview with Dreher for BOMB Magazine, “When you produce and show hundreds of [Tag um Tag gunter Tag paintings], it does become abstract and conceptual. It raises many issues. You can think about the glass as a kind of container of ideas, you can think about the glass being half full or half empty, a kind of philosophical statement. The project’s also about art history—painters have been painting still lifes for a very long time.”

Dreher succinctly replies, in the same interview: “Do you know the game, saying ‘table, table, table’ hundred times? […] It becomes something else, it’s no longer a word. I think that’s the same with the glass.”

While Dreher’s practice has drawn comparison to artist contemporaries such as On Kawara and Roman Opalka, his artwork is unique for being representational, rather than numerical or textual. His drinking glasses are simultaneously a meditation on time, a study in light and color, and an act of artistic endurance. While the glass is always depicted near the center of the canvas, at eye-level, the glass’s circumstances change in every painting, and the reflections of Dreher’s studio are enhanced or obscured by the waxing or waning light. The subtle handling of light and reflection is remarkable, especially in the present lot’s top row of ‘Day’ paintings, where a world is revealed in the hints of color and space twice reflected in each glass.

The present lot is exceptional not just in number, but also for including seven consecutive ‘Day’ paintings, and seven consecutive ‘Night’ paintings. Each row of these canvases was painted on consecutive days, and thus form a complete week in the artist’s practice. Dreher individually numbered his Tag um Tag gunter Tag paintings, and in this grouping, the top row of ‘Day’ paintings from 2002 are numbered 1692-1698. Likewise the ‘Night’ paintings from 2008, which form the bottom row of the present lot image, were painting on consecutive nights and are numbered 2360-2366. The differences between the day and night paintings are subtly apparent in color and reflection, and the works provide an beautiful contrast, and are evocative of contemplation, when viewed together.

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