Gerhard Richter's Holocaust series on display in Geman parliament


'Birkenau': Hiding the Nazis' death factory

Gerhard Richter's "Birkenau" series is made up of giant tables of color, largely veiled in shades of grey. Added color accents of green and red permeate the canvases, while concealing the original background images taken inside the concentration camp in 1944. Rather than illustrating the Holocaust, Richter skillfully hides its horrors through abstraction.


'Atlas' of genocide

Richter has spent much of his life collecting Holocaust-related information - a subject of particular interest to Germany's most venerated contemporary artist. He refers to his massive compilation, which consists of photographs, newspaper clippings and other documents, as the "Atlas."


Recurring theme

This 1971 oil painting is also based on documents from Richter's "Atlas," and was exhibited at the Frieder Burda Museum in Baden-Baden alongside "Birkenau" in 2016. Richter gave this image a rather elusive name: "Ausschnitt," which translates as "section" or "cutting."


Reluctant record-breaker

Richter ranks as one of Germany's leading and most expensive artists. His artworks have repeatedly broken their own records at auction. But the 85-year-old from Dresden doesn't seem to care much about the lucrative art business. Richter has said the skyrocketing prices his works fetch at auction are proof of the "ludicrous" nature of today's art world.


Personal introduction

Richter was on hand in Berlin to personally deliver the "Birkenau" series to Bundestag President Norbert Lammert, willing to face any controversy head on. The effect of his divisive paintings as they adorn the parliament's entrance hall remains to be seen.

Abstract artist Gerhard Richter's four-part Holocaust painting series is now on show at the Reichstag building in Berlin, home of the German parliament. The exhibit doesn't come without controversy.