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exhibition: Gerhard Richter: Two Sculptures for a Room by Palermo

dates: 22 April-31 July 2004

On view at the gallery is one of the very few sculptures ever made by Gerhard Richter: a 1971 work consisting of two plaster heads, painted with gray oil paint, one a self-portrait of Richter, the other a portrait of the German artist Blinky Palermo (Peter Heisterkamp, 1943-1977). The heads are each mounted on wooden bases, also painted by Richter, so that the heads appear at Richter's own height. The heads face each other across the room, with eyes closed as if each artist is actually looking inward; the viewer confronts each sculpture as if confronting the artists themselves.

The work being shown is the original painted plaster sculpture made in 1971 for the exhibition at Galerie Heiner Friedrich, Cologne, Palermo und Richter: (Wandmalerei und Skulptur) ["Palermo and Richter: Wall Painting and Sculpture"]. In that show, Palermo painted the gallery walls with ochre paint, leaving a white border all around, emphasizing the volume of the room in which Richter had installed this sculpture. Like most Palermo wall paintings, the Cologne Wandmalerei no longer exists.

At a later date, Richter made two bronze casts from this plaster version, one also painted and permanently installed in the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhause museum, Munich; the other, not painted, a promised gift to MoMA, New York.

This is the first time that this key Richter work has been publicly exhibited since 1971; while it is one of the most written about and referred to works in Richter's oeuvre, it has rarely been seen.