Madrid Museum Tours review of Gerhard Richter Birkenau

Gerhard-Richter-and-Birkenou

It’s the turn of Museum Frieder Burda to exhibit, beginning February 6, one of the most important abstract works, created in 2014 by Gerhard Richter. Birkenau was the name of the concentration camp where a Jewish Sonderkommando managed to photograph and bring to light the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis. On these shocking images Richter applied layers of paint which, on the one hand, provide an artistic solution to several failed projects of the artist, and, in turn, have become the starting point of a photographic work which will consist of 93 compositions on the same hideous subject. There are many who think that, after Auschwitz-Birkenau, poems should not be written, nor films be made which bring to the foreground the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime. However, films like ‘The Grey Zone’ or ‘Son of Saul’ offer ample proof that the Holocaust can be staged in order to convey the extent of its horror. In a recent interview, Richter argues that this statement also applies to painting. He admits, however, that photography as a genre, is able to put forth a degree of accuracy that shakes the viewer and completely surpasses any attempt by realistic painting to emulate it. Therefore, Richter has chosen abstraction in repainting his Birkenau series, making the original photographs completely unrecognizable. Thus, the artist shows that realism has disappeared from his painting style. (This said by one of the most important living painters of the contemporary art scene.) Richter is also sternly convinced that his work, Birkenau, will never be a commercial object. It has been conceived as a touring project and, hopefully, we can soon admire it in Spain.

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