In Oświęcim, Poland, construction has begun on the Gerhard Richter Exhibition House. The building, designed by the artist himself, is being built on the grounds and in cooperation with the International Youth Meeting Centre in Oświęcim /Auschwitz.
The exhibition house "Gerhard Richter: Birkenau" will feature the edition copy of Gerhard Richter's "Birkenau" cycle, which the Gerhard Richter Art Foundation has donated to the International Auschwitz Committee for this purpose. The exhibition ensemble will also include the four-part grey mirror that has been shown with the Birkenau paintings in various places around the world since 2014, as well as reproductions of the four photographs that were secretly taken in 1944 by prisoners of the Sonderkommando in Birkenau and led Gerhard Richter once again to explore this theme. The four photographs are considered to be the only photographic documents of the Holocaust in which the murder and burning of Jewish people in Auschwitz-Birkenau was recorded.
The exhibition house is located about four kilometres from the former German concentration and extermination camp Birkenau, where the photos were taken. The completion of the building, whose construction is financially made possible by a donation from the Volkswagen AG, is expected to be largely completed this year. The exhibition will be open to the public from 2024.
In Berlin, Christoph Heubner, Executive Vice President of the International Auschwitz Committee, emphasised: "The Birkenau paintings and also the exhibition building itself are an artistic and architectural testimony to the artist Gerhard Richter's recurring preoccupation with this disturbing subject. The fact that this artistic ensemble, which is unique for Gerhard Richter's work, now finds its place at the site of its prehistory, only a few kilometres away from the Birkenau crematoria and ash fields, is a lasting and powerful signal against forgetting for survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau and a sign of the compassion and solidarity that the artist shows them and their murdered families. In times of populist hatred and growing anti-Semitism, it also serves them as proof that the artistic, educational and political examination of Auschwitz and its causes does not and will never end."
Gerhard Richter himself emphasised: "Auschwitz/ Oświęcim is the right place to permanently show these works, this ensemble, in its own building. There are many other places of this horror, but Auschwitz as a name has become a symbol for them all and must serve as a reminder. And for me, all this is also a distinction, a consolation and also the feeling of a job done."