What do we see? A group of figures prepared for violence tower up larger than life and fix their gazes on us. As viewers we are standing where the potential opponent might stand. We recognize a gang leader with a dog, and a figure with his back to us – like a conductor ready to call the others to action.
Richter has applied the paint with thick, restless strokes. Thus even in the manner of execution the work is aggressive and offensive – figurative and abstract at once. In the very place where the human being usually reveals himself as an individual – the face – Richter shows pale, bony, hideous faces. Will we draw back or stand our ground? The painting’s intensity lies in its open conception, its latency. In a manner that is abstract in a twofold sense, we ourselves become the object of the work’s threat and violence.
© VG Bild-Kunst
Oil on canvas
280 × 450 cm
Inv. No. 2250
Property of the Städelscher Museums-Verein e.V.