Gerhard Richter Subway Station

It's hard enough for me to wrap my head around the fact that Gerhard Richter and Isa Genzken were married for 13 years. Now I find out they made a subway station together. A subway station about their relationship.

In a 1993 interview, Hans Ulrich casually asks Richter, "What works of yours exist in public spaces? The Underground station in Duisburg; the Hypo-Bank in Dusseldorf?"

And at first, I'm like, "Oh, right, besides the underground station in Duisburg." But then when I looked it up, I see that it was only completed in 1992, so the Duisburg Metrocard in Hans Ulrich's suit pocket probably still had two weeks left on it.


Anyway, the work seems remarkably undocumented. These are about the only pictures I could find. Genzken and Richter received the commissioned for the König-Heinrich-Platz U-bahn station in 1980. All the pieces of the project seem to be enamel on steel wall panels installed throughout the station.

Genzken made two murals facing each other on the train platform, with arcs from circles with radii of 3 and 5km, which relate to scaled down diameters of certain planets," according to the Google cache of one mobile travel site.


Dietmar Elgar's bio of Richter quotes Genzken's project statement: "One curve corresponds to the curvature of Mars on a scale of 1:1,000, another curve to VEnus on a scale of 1:30,000." Elgar then notes these references were "no coincidence. She was alluding to her romance with Richter." [Richter apparently painted two abstracts, titled Juno and Janus, in response. Which is adorable.]

As for the station, Richter's abstract mural adorns the west lobby, while in the east station entrance, the couple installed 24 enamel signs with historical facts about Duisburg. Frankly, I'm not feeling it. Maybe if someone were to go to Duisburg and shoot a flickr photoset of the station, we could get a better sense? Bitte-schoen?

Or maybe the thing to do is to stop looking for art, then you can see it. Here are some photos of the station from the web which happen to show some of Richter or Genzken's works:

duisburg_genzken_raino.jpg by Raino Gellenthin, via

by R + G Team Dülmen, via

colourful subway
by ati sun via flickr

U-Bahn Kunst []
Previously: giant Richter triptych commissioned by BMW

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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first published: February 20, 2011.

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