1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Holocaust painting on display in Baden-Baden

Stefan Dege/ssFebruary 7, 2016

German abstract artist Gerhard Richter's four-part Holocaust painting series is about to go on display this weekend in the city of Baden-Baden. The exhibit has attracted its share of controversy.

Deutschland Gerhard Richter Ausstellung in Baden-Baden
Image: Gerhard Richter, 2016

Now 83, Gerhard Richter painted "Birkenau" in 2014, drawing on photographs that a Jewish prisoner had taken secretly in Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944. The atrocities originally depicted in the photographs are not visible in Richter's work. He painted over them in black, red, green and grey hues. More than 1 million people died at the Nazi death camp, the majority of whom were Jews.

"Birkenau" is Richter's first work to explore the Nazi terror. The artist says he took an interest in the Holocaust early on. In the 1960s, he began collecting photos that documented the genocide.

Maler Gerhard Richter
Richter's art is some of Germany's most expensiveImage: picture-alliance/dpa/A. Burgi

Critics say the paintings merely depict - and therefore glorify - the horrors of the Holocaust despite the layers of abstraction hiding the original photographs.

"Birkenau" will be shown alongside other works by Richter and other artists at the Museum Frieder Burda until May. Richter is one of Germany's leading artists, and his works fetch a premium at sales.