North Rhine-Westphalia

Artist Gerhard Richter donates paintings to build houses for the homeless

Trust me, you couldn't do it yourself. Source: Getty / AFP

Gerhard Richter, one of Germany’s foremost modern painters, will sell 18 works to raise money for the homeless. To raise money for charity, he will sell three sets of six works which are part of an ongoing series, “Cage f.ff”. The sale of the 18 paintings is expected to generate between $1 and $1.2 million.

Mr. Richter’s works span paintings as realistic as photos, as well as abstract work, and sculpture. His paintings are also among the most expensive produced by a German artist, making him one of the richest people in the country.

The artworks will be auctioned through gallery fiftyfifty and the proceeds will go to the Housing First Fund, which seeks to build 100 apartments in North Rhine-Westphalia. “Years ago, we explained the concept for housing the homeless to Richter,” Julia von Lindern, the head of the Housing First project at fiftyfifty, told Artnet news, an industry news outlet. She said that he felt the project could work and wanted to support it right away.

Housing First is the only project of its kind in the country. Backed by the state of North-Rhine Westphalia – the most populous in Germany – with €424,000, it will help build homes for people living on the street, giving them access to a regular rental contract. They will also be able to have support for longer-term difficulties from addiction to unemployment, to help them break the cycle of homelessness.

Though Mr. Richter wasn’t willing to comment on the donation, he has participated in several other charitable projects, donating a series of paintings to Germany’s Reichstag, and another work to a memorial for people killed by the Nazis.

Mr. Richter is known for his reserve as well as his prolific output – and willingness to traverse the lines traditionally drawn in art between the figurative and the abstract. He has been described by critics as having an “anxious, doubting intellect.”

Born in Dresden to a teacher and a bookseller, both of whom struggled with the authorities, Mr. Richter studied at the Dresden Academy of Fine Art and worked on murals themed on workers, but escaped East Germany months before the Berlin Wall was built. Later, he studied in Düsseldorf, and taught in Hamburg and Canada. His work includes entries from portraiture, science and the politica ranging from members of the Red Army Faction to 9/11.

Allison Williams is deputy editor of Handelsblatt Global. To contact the author:

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