Gerhard Richter’s Birkenau Paintings

Robert Rubsam at Commonweal:

In the summer of 1944, a camera was smuggled out of Auschwitz. Inside it was a roll of film with four images from the gas chambers at Birkenau, taken by members of the Jewish Sonderkommando. These photos were distributed worldwide by the Polish resistance. Two of them appear to have been taken in quick succession, discreetly, from within a shadowed doorframe. The other pair, one of which is blurred, appear to have been shot at the hip from a distance. The photos show Jewish women stripping before the gas chamber, and dead bodies waiting to be incinerated. White smoke billows as other bodies burn.

In 2014, the German painter Gerhard Richter sought to make a statement on the Holocaust. He copied these stark black-and-white images onto four monumental canvases, first in pencil, then in oil. And then he began to cover them.

more here.