[NEWS] Gerhard Richter Permanently Loans 100 Works to Berlin Museum

March 18, 2021

Painter and sculptor Gerhard Richter stands in front of one his paintings from the "Birkenau" series. 

Photo: Soeren Stache/dpa//picture alliance via Getty Images. 

Although Gerhard Richter’s blockbuster exhibition at the Met Breuer in New York closed after just nine days at the start of the pandemic, fans of the artists might be interested to learn that 100 of his works—including ones on view in that survey—will get a permanent home at a not-yet-built Berlin museum.


Gerhard Richter, Birkenau, 2014. ©GERHARD RICHTER KUNSTSTIFTUNG 

On Monday, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, a consortium of museums in the German capital, revealed that the artist’s foundation plans to permanently loan the works to the Museum of the 20th Century. Gerhard Richter says he never wants his “Birkenau” series of paintings, which remember the Nazi concentration camp, to trade on the art market. That’s why he’s turning them over to the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, which oversees 27 institutions in Germany, for permanent loan.



Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild (649-2) (1987). Image courtesy Sotheby’s. 

I am delighted that the paintings are coming to Berlin,” Richter said in a statement. Parzinger said the loan is a “dream has come true.”


“‘Birkenau’ will keep the memory of the Holocaust alive, combined with the question of how to deal with this exemplary crime against humanity, which must always be answered anew,” said Joachim Jäger, acting director of the Neue Nationalgalerie.



Gerhard Richter, studio wall with works by Gerhard Richter during the semester tour, February 1962. 

© Gerhard Richter 2020. Photo by Gerhard Richter. Courtesy of the artist and the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden. 

Gerhard Richter was born in 1932 in Dresden, Germany. Gerhard Richter is known for a prolific and stylistically varied exploration of the medium of painting, often incorporating and exploring the visual effects of photography. In the early 1960s, Richter began to create large-scale photorealist copies of black-and-white photographs rendered in a range of grays, and innovated a blurred effect (sometimes deemed “photographic impressionism”) in which portions of his compositions appear smeared or softened—paradoxically reproducing photographic effects and revealing his painterly hand. With heavily textured abstract gray monochromes, Richter introduced abstraction into his practice, and he has continued to move freely between figuration and abstraction, producing geometric “Colour Charts”, bold, gestural abstractions, and “Photo Paintings” of anything from nudes, flowers, and cars to landscapes, architecture, and scenes from Nazi history.


Grütters welcomed the collaboration between Richter, who is based in Cologne, and the German capital, calling it “a great gain for the art metropolis” and a “vote of confidence” for the new museum that is currently under construction. Richter will have a gallery reserved for his loan on the upper floor of the planned museum.


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