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).
Photo: Peter Rigaud c/o Shotview Syndication
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
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 16, 2023
November 19, 2022–June 16, 2023
Gagosian at Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles
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
Anselm Kiefer and Michael Govan
On the occasion of his exhibition Anselm Kiefer: Exodus at Gagosian at Marciano Art Foundation in Los Angeles, the artist spoke with Michael Govan about his works that elaborate on themes of loss, history, and redemption.
Gagosian Quarterly Winter 2022
The Winter 2022 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Anna Weyant’s Two Eileens (2022) on its cover.
Hans Ulrich Obrist’s Questionnaire: Anselm Kiefer
In this ongoing series, curator Hans Ulrich Obrist has devised a set of thirty-seven questions that invite artists, authors, musicians, and other visionaries to address key elements of their lives and creative practices. Respondents make a selection from the larger questionnaire and reply in as many or as few words as they desire. For the fourth installment, we are honored to present the artist Anselm Kiefer.
Anselm Kiefer: Architect of Landscape and Cosmology
Jérôme Sans visits La Ribaute in Barjac, France, the vast studio-estate transformed by Anselm Kiefer over the course of decades. The labyrinthine site, now open to the public, stands as a total work of art, reflecting through its grounds, pavilions, and passageways major themes in Kiefer’s oeuvre: regeneration, mythology, memory, and more.
La Ribaute: Transitive, It Transforms
Camille Morineau writes of the triumph of the feminine at Anselm Kiefer’s former studio-estate in Barjac, France, describing the site and its installations as a demonstration of women’s power, a meditation on inversion and permeability, and a reversal of the long invisibility of women in history and myth.
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.
Fairs, Events & Announcements
Reading and Talk
Jerome Rothenberg and Charles Bernstein
On Global Post-Holocaust Poetics inside Anselm Kiefer’s “Exodus”
Wednesday, June 14, 2023, 6:30pm
Gagosian at Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles
Join Gagosian and Beyond Baroque Literary | Arts Center for an evening with poets Jerome Rothenberg and Charles Bernstein inside Anselm Kiefer’s exhibition Exodus at Gagosian at Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles. Two of the most consequential figures in radical poetics over the past half century, Rothenberg and Bernstein will explore some of the themes that occupy Kiefer—Jewish mysticism, the poetry of Paul Celan, and the formulation of a global poetics in response to the Holocaust—in a conversation and readings of their poetry.
Installation view, Anselm Kiefer: Exodus, Gagosian at Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles, November 19, 2022–June 16, 2023. Artwork © Anselm Kiefer. Photo: Jeff McLane
Tuesday, May 30, 2023, 5–7pm
Columbia Global Center, Paris
Anselm Kiefer will be in conversation with architectural historian and Columbia professor Barry Bergdoll exploring the role of architecture and space in the artist’s work. The exchange will address, among other works, Kiefer’s permanent installations in the Panthéon in Paris, a building about which Bergdoll has written extensively, including in the exhibition catalogue Le Panthéon: Symbole des révolutions (1989).
Anselm Kiefer’s permanent installation in the Panthéon, Paris. Artwork © Anselm Kiefer. Photo: Georges Poncet
Special Screening at Festival de Cannes
Wednesday, May 17, 2023
Festival de Cannes, France
Anselm (2023), directed by Wim Wenders, will have its premiere as a Special Screening within the Official Selection at the 76th Festival de Cannes in the South of France. This unique 3D cinematic experience dives deep into Anselm Kiefer’s work and reveals his life path, inspiration, and creative process, exploring his fascination with myth and history. Past and present are interwoven, diffusing the line between film and painting.
Still from Anselm (2023), directed by Wim Wenders
June 9–September 2023
Château La Coste, Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade, France
Five outdoor sculptures from Anselm Kiefer’s Frauen der Antike (Women of Antiquity) (1999–2002) and Femmes martyres (2018–19) series are on view at the Renzo Piano–designed art pavilion at Château La Coste. The bronze dresses, each bearing an attribute of a female historical or mythological figure, are situated among the pavilion’s art and architecture. Kiefer’s depiction of the Greek lyrical poetess Sappho, for example—his “monument to all the unknown women poets”—shoulders a tower of lead books.
Anselm Kiefer, Sappho, 2002–18 © Anselm Kiefer
Jubiläumsausstellung—Special Guest Duane Hanson
October 30, 2022–January 8, 2023
Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel, Switzerland
This exhibition, whose title translates to Anniversary Exhibition—Special Guest Duane Hanson, features more than one hundred works from the foundation’s collection, from modern to contemporary art, to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the institution. Several hyperrealist sculptures by Duane Hanson enrich the presentation, opening up surprising perspectives on the exhibited artworks, architecture, staff, and visitors. Work by Francis Bacon, Georg Baselitz, Alberto Giacometti, Anselm Kiefer, Roy Lichtenstein, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Rachel Whiteread is included.
Installation view, Jubiläumsausstellung—Special Guest Duane Hanson, Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel, Switzerland, October 30, 2022–January 8, 2023. Artwork, front to back: © 2022 Estate of Duane Hanson/Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein
Questi scritti, quando verranno bruciati, daranno finalmente un po’ di luce (Andrea Emo)
March 26, 2022–January 6, 2023
Palazzo Ducale, Venice
This exhibition of new work by Anselm Kiefer, whose title loosely translates to These writings, when burned, will finally cast a little light, coincides with the 59th Biennale di Venezia and takes its title from the writings of the Venetian philosopher Andrea Emo (1901–1983). Kiefer was invited by the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia to present a site-specific installation of paintings that respond to both the Sala dello Scrutinio—one of the most important spaces in the Palazzo Ducale—and the history of Venice.
Installation view, Anselm Kiefer Questi scritti, quando verranno bruciati, daranno finalmente un po’ di luce (Andrea Emo), Palazzo Ducale, Venice, March 26, 2022–January 6, 2023. Artwork © Anselm Kiefer. Photo: Andrea Avezzù
Pour Paul Celan
December 16, 2021–January 11, 2022
Grand Palais Éphémère, Paris
Fifteen years after inaugurating the Monumenta series at the Grand Palais in 2007, Anselm Kiefer is the first artist to realize a new project that engages with the entire space of the Grand Palais Éphémère. Continuing Kiefer’s work on European memory, the exhibition includes sculptures, installations, and nineteen large-scale canvases informed by the verses of the German-language poet Paul Celan.
Anselm Kiefer, Irrennäpfe, 2021 © Anselm Kiefer. Photo: Georges Poncet