Gerhard Richter. Birkenau-Paintings, Drawings, Overpainted Photographs

Dec 18, 2021 — Apr 24, 2022

  • Grey Mirror (4 pieces), 2019 (WV 955) – 228 x 915 cm, Installation view of the exhibition Gerhard Richter: Painting After All (detail), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, March 2020. Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

In his work spanning six decades, Gerhard Richter (b. 1932) has, on numerous occasions, engaged with the vexed subject of the Holocaust and how Nazi atrocities can, if at all, be depicted. It wasn’t until his Birkenau-Paintings, made in 2014, that Richter found an angle on and a form for this troublesome subject matter. The work is based on four photographs that were secretly taken by prisoners, at great personal risk, in the Auschwitz/Birkenau concentration camp.

Richter initially transferred the photographs onto canvases, enlarging the scale. When the results did not meet his expectations, he began to paint over them until the figuration ultimately disappeared.

These four abstract paintings are shown together with four grey mirrors hanging opposite the paintings and the prints of the four photos from the concentration camp in an installation characterised by reflections, references and relationships. Richter asks fundamental questions about the possibilities and limits of painting and representation. He thereby creates a space for reflection and memory.

The exhibitions in the Bel Etage are supported by the Foundation for Art, Culture, and Social Projects of Sparda-Bank West.

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