We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

TO JAN. 10, 2003

Photographer Evelyn Richter wasn’t well-known in her own country (the then-East Germany) until late in her career. And as her exhibit at the Goethe-Institut Inter Nationes demonstrates, that’s a pity: Though some of her portraits of musicians and other subjects are unremarkable, Richter’s more casual images, such as those that document visitors to art exhibitions (pictured), show genuine inspiration—which may explain why her work was regularly suppressed by the Communist authorities. One striking photograph from the museum series features Richter’s image bouncing off a curved, mirrored surface as life goes on in the gallery behind her. Richter’s largest prints are also her most intriguing, both for their style and for their content. Her grainy, almost washed-out aesthetic perfectly captures the pockmarked facades in such images as Vor der Alten Nationalgalerie, Berlin, um 1958 and Boxhagener Strasse, Berlin, um 1960. Her moody formalism elevates the anonymous apartment buildings of Magdeburg, 1968 into a symphony of strong horizontals (rail tracks, pavement stones), vertical accents (absurdly tall smokestacks), and just the slightest hint of curvature (a slender, dangling electrical wire). Several images seem to pay homage to Swiss-born American photographer Robert Frank, including one of a reclining medical table against a drab, wallpapered surface, and another featuring a rail passenger as seen from outside the train’s window. The most poignant aspect of these images is the uncertainty about whether Richter, living behind the Iron Curtain, even had access to Frank’s work. Richter’s photographs are on view from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays (closed Friday, Dec. 20, to Monday, Jan. 6, 2003) to Friday, Jan. 10, 2003, at the Goethe-Institut Inter Nationes, 814 7th St. NW. Free. (202) 289-1200. (Louis Jacobson)