ANSELM KIEFER

About Anselm Kiefer

– Kiefer was born in Germany, 1945 and

– Is known as a painter and sculptor. He is also considered one of the most influential artists today.

– From 1991-2007, he worked mainly in Barjac, a small city in the south of France in a large studio while also building his creations surrounding this area.

– Over Cities Grass will Grow: documentary was released in 2010 and shows Kiefer’s processes.

– His main inspirations derive from German culture and the layering of mythical ideas that had evolved by association to Nazism. This controversial topic is what made him more known among the art world. Later on, he also became interested in Jewish myths that the Nazis had tried to eliminate. Many of his pieces also make references to the Bible and mythology from different cultures.

– His work invokes a similar dark, atmosphere to Friedrich’s work.

Margarethe (1981)

– Before going to Barjac, Kiefer painted Margarethe, almost ten years before.

– Inspired by a poem, written by Paul Celan – who was the “only person in his family to survive incarceration at a concentration camp during the Holocaust.” Although Celan commited suicide at the age of 49 in 1970, he left behind a collection of literature that included “Death Fugue”.

– I’m not going to read the entire verse from the slide, and note that this isn’t the entire poem either but I just wanted to show the relationship between the two pieces.

– The poem focuses on two contrasting characters; Margarethe – with blonde “Aryan” hair, and Shulamith, a Jewish woman with black hair.

– Margarethe (the painting) is part of a series Kiefer was working on, which includes other paintings inspired by both Shulamith and Margarethe.

– “The straw embedded in many of Kiefer’s paintings makes reference not only to Margarete but also to the old German legend of Rumpelstiltskin who spun straw into gold.”

Material Use

– Something that makes Kiefers work so effective is the types of materials he uses and the way in which he uses them.

– He likes to work at a large scale and use industrial materials like molten lead to enhance his pieces.

– He uses a lot of natural materials like ash, straw, earth, dried plants and metals. And that I guess is how his work relates to this course. He uses nature to have cultural meaning.

– He uses raw materials to create something valuable, reminding the viewer that perhaps the “opposites lie within one another.”

Barjac

– Where Kiefer worked for several years, in an old silk factory which he renovated into a studio

– He built structures all around the area, creating and paving roads, and building homes for his paintings.

Osiris and Isis (completed in 1987)

– The base of the painting is oil and acrylics emulsion, after which he used other materials on top.

– Osiris and Isis is an Egyptian myth which Kiefer uses as an allegory for Germany’s struggle with the “legacy of World War II” (1933-1945 Nazi Germany, controlled by Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist German Worker’s party NSDAP)

– The myth is about Osiris, the god of the underworld who gets killed by his envious brother Set who then spreads Osiris’ body parts all over the land. Osiris’ wife, in mourning she searches for his remains and resurrects him – “literally re-remembering him.”

Innenraum painted in 1981

– Innenraum (pronounced EEnenraaum) means Interior space in German.

– The piece shows Hitler’s Reich Chancellery, the architecture of Albert Speer.