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
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
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.
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.
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.
Anselm Kiefer à La Tourette
Anselm Kiefer à La Tourette is available for online reading from June 22 through July 20 as part of Artist Spotlight: Anselm Kiefer. This book was published on the occasion of the artist’s 2019 exhibition Anselm Kiefer à La Tourette at the Couvent Sainte-Marie de La Tourette, Éveux, France. In 1966 Kiefer spent a few weeks at La Tourette, the monastery designed by Le Corbusier, where he was inspired by the materiality of the architecture. Fifty-two years later he was invited to return to exhibit his work in dialogue with the spiritual place. Anselm Kiefer à La Tourette documents the installations, paintings, sculptures, and artist’s books that were on view, and includes a series of photographs of the monastery taken by the artist. The publication also features a foreword by Larry Gagosian, an essay by Brother Marc Chauveau, and a text by Kiefer originally written in 1966 following his stay.
Anselm Kiefer à La Tourette (New York: Gagosian, in association with Le Couvent Sainte-Marie de La Tourette, Bernard Chauveau Édition, and Atelier Anselm Kiefer, 2020)
June 22–28, 2022
Anselm Kiefer’s monumental body of work represents a microcosm of collective memory, visually encapsulating a broad range of cultural, literary, and philosophical allusions. Drawing from sources that range from the Old and New Testaments, Kabbalah mysticism, Norse mythology, and Wagner’s Ring Cycle to the poetry of Ingeborg Bachmann and Paul Celan, Kiefer makes palpable the complexities of human history.
Photo: Georges Poncet
Artist Spotlight: Anselm Kiefer
La Ribaute Private Tour and Lunch
Over the course of three decades, Anselm Kiefer has transformed La Ribaute—a 40-hectare site located in the south of France near Barjac, northwest of Avignon—into a uniquely immersive artistic environment.
Enter for a chance to join an exclusive tour of the grounds on Saturday, September 10, 2022, for you and a guest. The visit includes a guided walk-through led by Gagosian director Georges Armaos, featuring a talk with Kiefer studio director Waltraud Forelli, and a private lunch amid the artist’s monumental installations.
Anselm Kiefer, Die Frauen der Antike, 1999–2002, installation view, La Ribaute, Barjac, France © Anselm Kiefer. Photo: Charles Duprat
Questi scritti, quando verranno bruciati, daranno finalmente un po’ di luce (Andrea Emo)
Through October 29, 2022
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–October 29, 2022. 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
October 15, 2021–January 9, 2022
Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome
This exhibition celebrates the Florentine poet Dante Alighieri, and the 700th anniversary of his death by gathering together two hundred artworks that investigate modern interpretations of the infernal universe, its landscapes, and its inhabitants. Work by Anselm Kiefer, Gerhard Richter, and Auguste Rodin is included.
Installation view, Inferno, Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome, October 15, 2021–January 9, 2022. Artwork © Anselm Kiefer. Photo: Alberto Novelli
Contemporary European Art
June 9–October 10, 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, Flughafen Tempelhof, Berlin © Rachel Whiteread