Gerhard Richter's 'Symphony of Light' Cologne Cathedral Gets New Stained-Glass Window

Cologne Cathedral finally has a new stained-glass window, designed by Gerhard Richter, one of Germany's most important living artists. It replaces the plain glass window installed after the original was destroyed during World War II.

Visitors to Cologne Cathedral can now look forward to a kaleidoscope of glowing multi-colored light after a brand new abstract window was unveiled on Saturday.

The 11,500 squares of glass in 72 colors fill the 20-meter-high window, which was designed by Gerhard Richter, one of Germany's most important living artists. The 75-year-old painter and photographer declared that he was happy the project had been a success, particularly as, unlike his other work, it isn’t intended to hang for a short time but is to be a "window for eternity."

Cologne's Gothic cathedral has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996 and was recently voted Germany's most popular tourist landmark. But many locals lamented the fact that the southern window had consisted of simple unadorned glass ever since the original stained-glass window was destroyed during World War II.

The cathedral decided to replace the window with a new design but plans for a more traditional figurative window were rejected by the cathedral in favor of Richter's abstract design.

Richter, who was born in Dresden and escaped to West Germany in 1961, has lived and worked in Cologne since the early 1980s and was made an honorary citizen of the city earlier this year. Although the artist -- who is one of the world's most expensive living artists -- waived any fee, the costs of materials and mounting the window came to around €370,000 ($506,000). However the costs were covered by donations from more than 1,000 people.

The window was covered with a black cloth until Saturday when it was unveiled during a special service. Speaking during the ceremony, Monsignor Josef Sauerborn said that, "in its overwhelming abundance of color ... it is a symphony of light."

After the service, Cologne Mayor Fritz Schramma also voiced his praise for the new window: "The cathedral has been enriched and so has the city."


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