A pavilion built specifically for a series of four large paintings bearing the common title ‘Birkenau’, donated by German artist Gerhard Richter, will be opened in Oswiecim at the beginning of February. Designed by the artist himself, the building was constructed on the grounds of and in collaboration with the International Youth Meeting Centre in Oswiecim.
The pavilion will present the ‘Birkenau’ series, which the Gerhard Richter Foundation donated to the International Auschwitz Committee specifically for this purpose.
The exhibition of the works will be complemented by a four-part grey mirror, which has been shown together with the paintings of the “Birkenau” cycle in various locations around the world since 2014. There will also be reproductions of four photographs, secretly taken at Birkenau in 1944 by Sonderkommando prisoners, which prompted Gerhard Richter to revisit the subject. These four photographs are believed to be the only photographic documents of the Holocaust to record the murder and burning of the Jewish population at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
“The fact that this set of images, unique to Gerhard Richter’s work, has found its place not far from the site of its prehistory, just a few kilometres from the crematoria and ash fields of Birkenau, is for the survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau a lasting and powerful signal against oblivion and a sign of the artist’s compassion and solidarity with them and their murdered families. At a time of populist hatred and growing anti-Semitism, it also serves them as proof that the artistic, educational, and political engagement with Auschwitz and its causes is not over and will never end”, said Christoph Heubner, executive vice-president of the International Auschwitz Committee in Berlin.
Gerhard Richter is a German painter, sculptor, and photographer. He has used photographs as a model for paintings in his work since the 1960s being one of Germany’s best-known and most expensive artists.