Richard Long – Berlin Circle | Hamburger Bahnhof




Foreground: 'Basalt Ellipse', 2000. Background: 'River Avon Mud Circle', 2011.

Foreground: ‘Basalt Ellipse’, 2000. Background: ‘River Avon Mud Circle’, 2011.


Detail of ‘Autumn Turf Circle’, 1998


‘Black and White Circle’, 1988


‘River Avon Mud Circle’, 2011



1. General Information


1.1 Overview

Title: Richard Long. Berlin Circle

Place: Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Invalidenstraße 50-51, 10557 Berlin

Time: 26.03.2011-31.07.2011

Subject: second exhibiton of the ‘Berlin Circle’ at Hamburger Bahnhof, accompanied by a selection of other works.

Target / Focus: The exhibition features only seven pieces which are spread in the main hall of Hamburger Bahnhof. The works ‘Berlin Circle’ and ‘River Avon Mud Circle’ are prominently displayed.

Objects: stones, basalt, turf, mud

Target group: Everyone, who is interested in land art, sculpture, nature.


1.2 Impressum

Curators / authors: Prof. Dr. Eugen Blum and Dr. Katharina Schlüter

Catalogue: ‘Richard Long. Berlin Circle’ Published by Udo Kittelmann and Eugen Blume for Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin. Edited by Udo Kittelmann, Eugen Blume, Katharina Schlüter. 60 pages, 53 color images. Available at Verlag für Moderne Kunst Nürnberg


2. Analysis

2.1 Classification

Institution: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Category: Solo art exhibition

Exhibition space:

Interior: A vast, high industrial hall, with white walls and tiled floor.

Period: temporary exhibition


2.3 Object Presentation

After entering Hamburger Bahnhof you find yourself in the main hall. Right behind the ticket counter you can already see some pieces of the exhibition. The seven artworks are all in the same room, the huge industrial hall which was a former train station.

The works are loosely arranged in a row on the floor. The first object the visitor encounters is the eponymic ‘Berlin Circle’, a circle of stone, twelve metres in diameter, laid out on the floor. ‘Berlin Circle’ is an important work in the Sammlung Marx and was first unveiled and installed by Richard Long for the opening of the Hamburger Bahnhof in 1996. It serves as a thematic focal point in the exhibition, emphasising one of the artist’s core forms: the circle.

The five other floor pieces are located behind it, with enough space for every object. The hall is overlooked by the central wall piece, ‘River Avon Mud Circle’. Behind the monumental wall and slightly hidden, there are two TV screens with films by and on the artist.

Visitors can observe every object in detail, even touch them. Most visitors wander around the objects, viewing them from different angles.

There are no information panels near the objects. Instead, the visitors can view a plan of the exhibition at the entrance.

2.4 Technical details

The objects are simply lying on the floor. In some cases there is still a chalk outline visible on the tiles. The mud piece is “painted” directly on the wall, with muddy drops left on the floor. There are no barriers between artwork and viewer, such as vitrines or ropes.

The light is mostly natural, coming form big ceiling windows. There is additional ceiling lightning in a neutral hue.


3. Personal view

Normally land art is shown in its ‘natural surroundings’, in nature itself. If land art is to be presented in a museum, it is often done via photos or videos, which of course is just an unsatisfying form of representation. A monumental sculpture doesn’t work on a TV screen (as can be seen in the accompanying small exhibition on ‘Land Art’).

Even if the Robert Long exhibition is quite small (‘small’ as in quantity of the works, not in size), I was happy that the actual artworks were presented, and no documentations of them. It was somehow paradox, seeing these works in a museum – all these natural materials, even dirt, arranged nicely on the clean, neutral white exhibition space. It was like these works have somehow been cut out of nature and pasted on the museum floor.

The artworks were given enough room to speak for themselves. Without any additional information panels, vitrines, walls or barriers, the visitor was able to experience the art as he pleased. It was possible to walk around the sculptures, sitting in front of them, smell it, even touching it. This way the visitor was encouraged to interact with the artworks.

It was a very interesting an fun exhibition. After all, you normally don’t get to see a monumental circle of dirt displayed so nicely.