Anselm Kiefer’s monumental body of work represents a microcosm of collective memory, visually encapsulating a broad range of cultural, literary, and philosophical allusions—from the Old and New Testaments, Kabbalah mysticism, Norse mythology and Wagner’s Ring Cycle to the poetry of Ingeborg Bachmann and Paul Celan.
Born during the closing months of World War II, Kiefer reflects upon Germany’s post-war identity and history, grappling with the national mythology of the Third Reich. Fusing art and literature, painting and sculpture, Kiefer engages the complex events of history and the ancestral epics of life, death, and the cosmos. His boundless repertoire of imagery is paralleled only by the breadth of media palpable in his work.
Kiefer’s oeuvre encompasses paintings, vitrines, installations, artist books, and an array of works on paper such as drawings, watercolors, collages, and altered photographs. The physical elements of his practice—from lead, concrete, and glass to textiles, tree roots, and burned books—are as symbolically resonant as they are vast-ranging. By integrating, expanding, and regenerating imagery and techniques, he brings to light the importance of the sacred and spiritual, myth and memory.
Anselm Kiefer was born in 1945 in Donaueschingen, Germany. After studying law and Romance languages, he attended the School of Fine Arts at Freiburg im Breisgau and the Art Academy in Karlsruhe while maintaining a contact with Joseph Beuys.
Kiefer’s work has been shown and collected by major museums worldwide, including the following: “Bilder und Bücher,” Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland (1978); “Verbrennen, verholzen, versenken, versanden,” West German Pavilion, 39th Biennale di Venezia, Italy (1980); “Margarete—Sulamith,” Museum Folkwang, Germany (1981); Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Germany (1984, traveled to ARC Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France; and Israel Museum, Jerusalem); “Peintures 1983–1984,” Musée d’Art Contemporain, Bordeaux (1984); and Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois (1987, traveled to Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and Museum of Modern Art, New York, through 1989).
Further museum exhibitions include “Bücher 1969–1990,” Kunsthalle Tübingen, Germany (1990, traveled to Kunstverein München, Germany; and Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland, through 1991); Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin, Germany (1991); “Melancholia,” Sezon Museum of Art, Tokyo (1993, traveled to Kyoto National Museum of Art, Japan; and Hiroshima Museum of Contemporary Art, Japan); “Himmel-Erde,” Museo Correr, Venice (1997); and “El viento, el tiempo, el silencio,” Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (1998).
In recent years, Anselm Kiefer’s solo exhibitions have included Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain (2000); “Maleri 1998–2000,” Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebkæk, Denmark (2001); “Die sieben Himmelspaläste,“ Fondation Beyeler, Basel (2001); “I sette palazzi celesti,” Fondazione Pirelli, Milan (2004); “Heaven and Earth,” Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas (2005, traveled to Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal, Québec; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California, through 2007); Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain (2007); “Sternenfall / Chute d’étoiles,” Monumenta, Grand Palais, Paris (2007); “Anselm Kiefer au Louvre,” Musée du Louvre, Paris (2007); Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebkæk, Denmark (2010); “Shevirat Hakelim,” Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel (2011); “Beyond Landscape,” Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo (2013); Royal Academy of Arts, London (2014); “l’alchimie du livre,” Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris (2015); Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2015); “Kiefer Rodin,” Musée Rodin, Paris (2017, traveled to the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, through 2018); “For Velimir Khlebnikov — Fates of Nations,” State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg (2017); and “Provocations,” The Met Breuer, New York (2017).
Tuesday, March 23, 2021, 2pm EDT
Featuring James Cuno, Hugo Marchand, Florent Melac, and Hannah O’Neill
For the fifth episode of Gagosian Premieres, we celebrate Anselm Kiefer: Field of the Cloth of Gold—a new exhibition at Gagosian, Le Bourget—with a conversation between the artist and art historian James Cuno and a debut ballet performance by Hugo Marchand and Hannah O’Neill, choreographed by Florent Melac and set to music composed by Steve Reich.
Extended through June 26, 2021
Field of the Cloth of Gold
February 7–June 26, 2021
Extended through September 1, 2017
Transition from Cool to Warm
May 5–September 1, 2017
West 21st Street, New York
Rainer Maria Rilke: Duino Elegies
Bobbie Sheng explores the symbiotic relationship between the poet and visual artists of his time and tracks the enduring influence of his poetry on artists working today.
Mythologies: A Conversation with Erlend Høyersten
Gagosian’s Georges Armaos speaks with the director of ARoS Aarhus Art Museum, Denmark, about the exhibition Mythologies: The Beginning and End of Civilizations, the art of Anselm Kiefer, and the role of museums during times of crisis.
Cast of Characters
James Lawrence explores how contemporary artists have grappled with the subject of the library.
Veil and Vault
An exhibition at the Broad in Los Angeles prompts James Lawrence to examine how artists give shape and meaning to the passage of time, and how the passage of time shapes our evolving accounts of art.
Richard Calvocoressi speaks with Anselm Kiefer about the range of mythological and historical symbols in the artist’s sculpture Uraeus.
Anselm Kiefer: Uraeus
Taking viewers behind the scenes during the installation of Anselm Kiefer’s Uraeus at Channel Gardens, Rockefeller Center®, New York, this video features interviews with Kiefer, Robin Vousden, Nicholas Baume, and Richard Calvocoressi. The speakers detail the conception, installation, and symbolism of this monumental public sculpture.
Transition from Cool to Warm
Art historian James Lawrence explores Anselm Kiefer’s latest body of work.
Anselm Kiefer at Copenhagen Contemporary
Tom Lee explores Anselm Kiefer’s exhibition at Copenhagen Contemporary, tracing the literary and alchemical references at work in the installation.
Anselm Kiefer at the Royal Academy of Art
Anselm Kiefer discusses his work with Tim Marlow, director of artistic programs at the Royal Academy of Arts, on the occasion of his exhibition at the London institution.
with Anselm Kiefer and Emanuele Coccia
Thursday, April 15, 2021, 2pm edt
Sarah Sze will discuss her recent exhibition catalogue De nuit en jour/Night into Day—featuring contributions by Bruno Latour, Jean Nouvel, and Leanne Sacramone—with Anselm Kiefer and philosopher Emanuele Coccia, as part of the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain’s Art Book Series. Sze will join from her studio in New York, while Kiefer and Coccia will speak from inside the exhibition Night into Day at Foundation Cartier. The trio will talk about Twice Twilight and Tracing Fallen Sky (both 2020), two works Sze created specifically for the Paris exhibition, and about Kiefer’s recently installed work at the Panthéon in Paris. To attend the online event, visit www.fondationcartier.com.
Sarah Sze, Tracing Fallen Sky, 2020 (detail), installation view, Sarah Sze: Night into Day, Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris © Sarah Sze
Anselm Kiefer has produced a new series of works for the Panthéon in Paris, including a permanent installation comprising six vitrines, as well as two monumental paintings that are currently on loan. Together with a composition by the French contemporary composer Pascal Dusapin, it forms an ensemble of new works commissioned by President Emmanuel Macron. This marks the first time since 1924 that such a commission has been produced for the Panthéon; the works’ unveiling coincided with Armistice Day, November 11, 2020.
Anselm Kiefer, Qu’est-ce que nous sommes. . . , 2020, installation view, Panthéon, Paris © Anselm Kiefer. Photo: Georges Poncet
Transition from Cool to Warm
Anselm Kiefer: Transition from Cool to Warm is available for online reading from May 31 through July 1 as part of the From the Library series. The catalogue documents the artist’s exhibition at Gagosian New York in 2017. Central to this publication are more than forty watercolors made between 2012 and 2016, marking Kiefer’s return to the medium after forty years. The exhibition also featured over forty unique artist books and nine monumental landscape paintings, which are included in the catalogue. Essays by novelist Karl Ove Knausgård and art historian James Lawrence are included, along with an interview by art journalist Louisa Buck and the artist.
Anselm Kiefer: Transition from Cool to Warm (New York: Gagosian, 2017)
Contemporary European Art
Through September 19, 2021
Flughafen Tempelhof, Berlin
Presenting work by more than ninety established and emerging artists from thirty-four countries, Diversity United reflects the diversity and vitality of Europe’s contemporary art scene. The exhibition, which will travel to venues in Moscow and Paris, sheds light on subjects such as freedom, democracy, migration, territory, and political and personal identity. Work by Georg Baselitz, Anselm Kiefer, Gerhard Richter, Tatiana Trouvé, and Rachel Whiteread is included.
Rachel Whiteread, Untitled, 2010, installation view, Gagosian, Davies Street, London © Rachel Whiteread. Photo: Mike Bruce
Through September 19, 2021
Albertina Modern, Vienna
Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, this exhibition features more than a hundred contemporary artworks from the Albertina’s collection organized into seven different “chapters” conceived as independent yet loosely connected “worlds.” Work by Georg Baselitz, Katharina Grosse, Anselm Kiefer, Roy Lichtenstein, Albert Oehlen, Andy Warhol, and Franz West is included.
Georg Baselitz, B. für Larry (Remix), 2006 © Georg Baselitz
The Beginning and End of Civilizations
April 4–October 18, 2020
ARoS Aarhus Art Museum, Denmark
This exhibition attempts to expose the mythological narratives that have sustained society through various historical epochs and had a governing influence on communities as well as on war and destruction. By highlighting specific historical points of interest, the show aims to uncover periods where old narratives are discarded and new ones emerge, often via radical ruptures. Work by Damien Hirst and Anselm Kiefer is included.
Damien Hirst, Mermaid, 2014 © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2020
Contemporary Drawing from 1970 to Now
September 12, 2019–January 12, 2020
British Museum, London
Celebrating drawing in its own right, rather than its historic role as preparatory to painting, this exhibition explores how contemporary artists have used drawing to examine themes including identity, place, and memory. Work by Glenn Brown, Ellen Gallagher, Anselm Kiefer, and Rachel Whiteread is included.
Glenn Brown, Children of the Revolution (after Rembrandt), 2017 © Glenn Brown