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>> Selection of reviews on Gerhard Richter's Eight Grey

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Selection of reviews on Gerhard Richter's Eight Grey

“The rind of knuckled pork, the walls of the buildings, the water of the River Spree – everything appears grey on grey…” The newcomer Tobias Timm, spurred on by the monochrome appearance of Richter’s Eight Grey, uses his exhibition review in the Süddeutsche Zeitung as an opportunity to voice some fundamental observations concerning Berlin’s grey weather and the mentality of the capital city’s inhabitants in comparison to other major European cities: “The problem, however, also has to do with the way people deal with the climatic difficulties here. Other large cities that have to put up with miserable weather, such as London or Hamburg, have developed historical strategies for confronting the leaden grey with elegance and style: with a fine cup of tea and wearing a suit of grey flannel, one can survive a rainy day in a decidedly civilized manner.” What about a nice full-spectrum light therapy?

“This is how minimalism can work in the best of cases.” Ulrich Clewing praises Eight Grey in the Frankfurter Zeitung, describing it as a kind of stage on which everything and everybody plays a role: the visitors, the guards, the quality of light, the hiss of the coffee machine, the noise and the happenings outside on the street. “Whoever remains here for some time soon ceases to walk through the space, but moves more and more deliberately, almost cautiously from one end of the room to the other,” Clewing muses, wondering if this minimalist reduction in Richter’s work doesn’t at the same time mark a conclusion in Richter’s work.

Yet he leaves everything open towards the end of his article: “One could think that these eight panels represent a kind of essence of the seventy year-old artist’s work. But maybe it’s precisely the other way around: a beginning.”

In contrast to other presentations of contemporary art, where the mood can be “relaxed, discerning, or even amused,” Mark Siemons observes a sense of “restrained aggression” in Eight Grey in the “capital city column” of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “Each person is looking at their own reflection, how they’re standing in front of the grey panel struggling to peer inside it.” If it weren’t for the guest book, which the author quotes from at length, we wouldn’t be in a position to do much more than guess at what goes on in a visitor’s mind while viewing the panes of glass. “It seems that the smooth surfaces, which fail to reveal any evidence of personal influence,” can only, in his opinion, “be appreciated in the biographical context of their maker – or in the context of the bank, where they could stand for the real symbol of money in all its emptiness and abstraction, making everything and nothing possible.” More obstinacy is called for in the face of insecurities of this nature: “Yet the only visitors that can be termed truly independent are the ones who don’t let their view become dictated by art: ‘The woman at the cash register really is quite beautiful, isn’t she.’”