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).
Extended through September 1, 2017
Transition from Cool to Warm
May 5–September 1, 2017
West 21st Street, New York
May 3–June 8, 2013
West 21st Street, New York
October 19, 2012–January 26, 2013
Next Year in Jerusalem
November 6–December 18, 2010
West 24th Street, New York
April 3–May 23, 2009
March 30–May 11, 2008
First Baptist Church Gym, Los Angeles
March 29–April 26, 2008
November 8–December 14, 2002
West 24th Street, New York
From the Quarterly
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 Art, on the occasion of the UK exhibition.
Fairs, Events & Announcements
May 2–July 22, 2018
Rockefeller Center, New York
Uraeus is Anselm Kiefer’s first US site-specific public sculpture. Commissioned by Public Art Fund and Tishman Speyer, and presented by Gagosian, the work consists of a gigantic open book with eagle’s wings 30 feet in span, both made of lead, on top of a 20-foot-tall lead-clad stainless steel column. Clustered around the base are further outsize lead books, while a large snake coils up the column. Lead is one of the artist’s preferred materials owing to its soft, fluid properties traditionally associated with alchemical transformation, especially its second stage: dissolution.
Anselm Kiefer, Uraeus, 2017–18 (detail) © Anselm Kiefer. Photo: Georges Poncet
Monday, April 30, 2018, 6:30–8pm
New School, New York
Anselm Kiefer will speak with Richard Calvocoressi about his new work and past public art projects on the occasion of his new public installation Uraeus at Rockefeller Center, New York, on view May 2–July 22, 2018. To attend the event, purchase tickets at newschool.edu.
Anselm Kiefer, Uraeus, 2017–18 (detail) © Anselm Kiefer
Anselm Kiefer will be presented with the J. Paul Getty Medal to honor his extraordinary contributions to the practice, understanding, and support of the arts on November 13, 2017 at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York.
Photo: Peter Rigaud
Opening this Week
October 19, 2018–January 27, 2019
Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry, England
This exhibition features works spanning forty years of Anselm Kiefer’s career, characterized by the artist’s unflinching willingness to confront taboo and controversial issues from recent history.
Anselm Kiefer, The Moral Law within Us, the Starry Heavens above Us, 1969–2010, Tate and National Galleries of Scotland © Anselm Kiefer
Arte e matericità tra informe et invisibile
Through January 6, 2019
GAMeC—Galleria d’Arte Moderna et Contemporanea di Bergamo, Italy
Black Hole: Arte e matericità tra informe et invisibile is the first exhibition in an ambitious three-year research program dedicated to the theme of matter. Activating a dialogue with the history of scientific and technological discoveries, and investigating the development of aesthetics theories, Black Hole showcases the work of artists who have explored the material element’s most intrinsic significance, where the actual concept of matter shatters to open up a more profound idea of matter as an original element, as the primordial substance that constitutes everything. Work by Urs Fischer, Lucio Fontana, Alberto Giacometti, Anselm Kiefer, and Piero Manzoni is included.
Installation view, Black Hole: Arte e matericità tra informe et invisibile, GAMeC—Galleria d’Arte Moderna et Contemporanea di Bergamo, Italy, October 4, 2018–January 6, 2019. Artwork, left to right: Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini-Collezione Burri, Città di Castello © 2018 SIAE; © Piero Manzoni/2018 SIAE. Photo: Antonio Maniscalco
A Journey That Wasn’t
Opened June 30, 2018
The Broad, Los Angeles
This exhibition explores complex representations of time and its passage. The show includes more than fifty works drawn from the museum’s collection of postwar and contemporary art and features more than twenty artists, including Richard Artschwager, Gregory Crewdson, Andreas Gursky, Anselm Kiefer, and Ed Ruscha.
Ed Ruscha, Azteca/Azteca In Decline, 2007, Broad Art Foundation © Ed Ruscha
Selections from the Peter Marino Collection
July 28–September 23, 2018
Southampton Arts Center, New York
In 1978 Peter Marino acquired an artwork from Andy Warhol. Since then, the Peter Marino Collection has grown to encompass hundreds of paintings and mixed-media pieces representing some of the most notable artists of today. Work by Georg Baselitz, Glenn Brown, Damien Hirst, Anselm Kiefer, Richard Prince, and Andy Warhol is included.
Georg Baselitz, Lehr nich ratte much wilm (Lelf bal wile), 2013 © Georg Baselitz 2018