Anselm Kiefer

© Anselm Kiefer. Photography by Renate Graf. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.

Anselm Kiefer
Born:
1945
Birthplace:
Donaueschingen, Germany

About Anselm Kiefer

Born at the close of World War II, Anselm Kiefer reflects on and critiques the myths and chauvinism that propelled the German Third Reich to power. With Wagnerian scale and ambition, his paintings depict the ambivalence of his generation toward the grandiose impulse of German nationalism and its impact on history. Balancing the dual purposes of powerful imagery and critical analysis, Kiefer’s work is considered part of the neo-expressionist return to representation and personal reflection that came to define the 1980s. At that time, Kiefer was the centerpiece of a critical debate on the continued validity of painting, the ability of representation to heal deep historical wounds, and the legacy of fascism.
 
Zweistromland: The High Priestess, 1985–87, depicts the union of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers as an intersection of rusted, crumbling modern train tracks, bridges, or superhighways. Water often signifies life, hope, and renewal, but Kiefer’s reinterpretation suggests thwarted ambition and broken promises. With hues of blue and shadowy passages of black and brown, the monumental painting offers a dour look at Germany’s past—a country believed by its Nazi ancestors to be a new, modern cradle civilization on the scale of Mesopotamia and subsequently revealed to be a deeply flawed force for hate.
 
In Deutschlands Geisteshelden, 1973, Kiefer superimposes historical meaning on a setting of personal significance, his former studio in a rural schoolhouse. Painted on six strips of burlap sewn together, Kiefer creates a textured, wooden room receding sharply into space. The work recalls both hunting lodge and a memorial hall. Fires burn on the walls, and the surface suggests that the entire scene has been singed with flame. According to art historian Mark Rosenthal, this work demonstrates that “Kiefer’s attitude about a Germany whose spiritual heroes are in fact transitory and whose deeply felt ideals are vulnerable is not only ambivalent but also sharply biting and ironical....These great figures and their achievements are reduced to just names, recorded not in a marble edifice but in the attic of a rural schoolhouse.”

By Anselm Kiefer in the Collection

Anselm Kiefer
1969-89
mixed media on treated lead mounted on original photograph in glazed steel frame
67 x 94 1/2 in. (170.18 x 240.03 cm)
On View
Anselm Kiefer
1968-91
photograph on treated lead in a glazed steel frame
95 1/8 x 51 15/16 in. (241.62 x 131.92 cm)
Anselm Kiefer
2011
emulsion, shellac, pottery, salt, cardboard, lead boat
149 1/2 x 220 1/2 x 21 3/4 in. (379.73 x 560.07 x 55.25 cm)
Anselm Kiefer
2011
mixed media in inscribed glass and steel vitrine
157 1/2 x 63 x 63 in. (400.05 x 160.02 x 160.02 cm)
Anselm Kiefer
1977-88
original photograph and mistletoe on treated lead in a glazed steel frame
94 1/2 x 67 in. (240.03 x 170.18 cm)
Anselm Kiefer
2011
27 unique photographs on lead on steel frame
106 1/2 x 147 1/2 x 590 1/2 in. (270.51 x 374.65 x 1499.87 cm)
Anselm Kiefer
1983
watercolor on paper
16 3/4 x 21 3/4 in. (42.55 x 55.25 cm)
Anselm Kiefer
1973
oil and charcoal on burlap mounted on canvas
120 1/2 x 267 3/4 in. (306.1 x 680.1 cm)
On View
Anselm Kiefer
2010
oil, emulsion, acrylic, shellac, thorn bushes, photographs, and lead on canvas in glass and steel frames
111 x 302 3/8 x 13 3/16 in. (281.94 x 768.03 x 33.5 cm)
Anselm Kiefer
1986-89
original photograph on treated lead in a glazed steel frame
67 x 94 1/2 in. (170.18 x 240.03 cm)
Anselm Kiefer
1988
original photograph on treated lead in a glazed steel frame
90 1/2 x 67 in. (229.87 x 170.18 cm)
On View
Anselm Kiefer
1971
oil and fabric collage on two canvas panels
78 1/4 x 38 1/4 in. (198.76 x 97.16 cm)
On View
Anselm Kiefer
1998
mixed media on canvas
75 1/4 x 221 x 2 1/2 in. (191.1 x 561.3 x 6.4 cm)
Anselm Kiefer
1977-93
acrylic, emulsion and shellac on woodcut mounted on canvas
150 1/2 x 196 5/8 in. (382.27 x 499.43 cm)
On View
Anselm Kiefer
1982
oil, straw, and mixed media on canvas
110 3/8 x 149 7/8 in. (280.35 x 380.68 cm)
Anselm Kiefer
1985-87
mixed media on two canvas panels with applied wire and metal object
130 x 220 in. (330.2 x 558.8 cm)