Gerhard Richter's abstractions are profound and beautiful, though perplexing. After all these years, they still present a curious challenge: what, exactly, are they? RICHTER 858 explores this question by focusing on one suite of extraordinary pictures painted in 1999, soon after his return to work after a silence caused by a stroke. Both investigation and celebration, this book brings together image, music and text in a uniquely compelling way: contributors include the great guitarist and composer Bill Frisell, two sharp-eyed critics, and a baker's dozen of prominent, award-winning poets. Housed in an aluminum slipcase, this lavish, oversized volume features the largest, most sumptuous, and most accurate reproductions of any Richter work. The eight paintings of the suite are shown at more than half-scale, and also, quite untraditionally, presented unbound on heavy paper in a pocket at the back of the book--allowing readers to mix, match, and re-present the work for themselves outside the confines of the printed volume. Forty details from the paintings are also reproduced in large-format, accompanied by the poems and texts. These brilliant passages--rich in incident and intervention, and ranging from the coolly sublime to the loudly riotous--make fascinating pictures in their own right. Additionally, a double gatefold opens to show all eight paintings in panoramic view. In essence, RICHTER 858 presents an elegant, if raucous, meeting ground for our most important contemporary artist and a diverse chorus of American music, poetry, and criticism.