The National Gallery in Berlin in Germany receives one hundred works by Gerhard Richter. A long-term loan agreement between the Gerhard Richter Art Foundation and the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation was signed today in Cologne – the painter’s residence.
The works are to be shown first in the Neue Nationalgalerie and later in the Museum of the 20th Century, which is currently being built. On the upper floor there will be a room dedicated to Gerhard Richter.
The collection of one hundred works is of enormous value, as Richter is considered one of the world’s most influential artists and his works achieve top prices. “A hundred works by Gerhard Richter for Berlin – it is and remains a sensation,” said the Managing Director of the National Gallery, Joachim Jäger, after a message from the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation.
“Birkenau” cycle best known
The bundle includes both photographic paintings in Richter’s characteristic wiping technique such as “Besetztes Haus” (1989) as well as glass and mirror works such as “Spiegel grau” (1991) and a large part of the abstract late work. These paintings, some of which were large in format, were still created by Richter when he was over 80 in his studio in Cologne-Hahnwald, before he had to stop painting for health reasons.
The best known is the four-part cycle “Birkenau” (2014). Due to its paramount importance, it will be on permanent display at the Kulturforum in the buildings of the National Gallery from 2023. “Birkenau” consists of four abstract colored pictures. First Richter had copied four black and white photographs that inmates of the concentration camp had taken secretly.
Later, however, he painted over these pictures so that the original motifs can no longer be recognized. The result is quite controversial: Several art historians have accused Richter of arbitrariness, since without the title one would never get the idea that the pictures could have something to do with the Holocaust. Ivan Lefkovits, a survivor from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, said, “I feel the entirety of the Holocaust when I look at the picture.”
“Doesn’t want a museum of its own”
In the Museum of the 20th Century, Richter’s works are to be presented “in a meaningful context with the collection of the National Gallery”, according to the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. In 2019, Richter told the dpa that he wanted his work to be exhibited together with those of other artists.
“I don’t want my own museum,” says the artist. Previously, the former Lord Mayor of Cologne Fritz Schramma (CDU) had launched the idea of a Gerhard Richter Museum in Cologne.
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