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
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 Art, on the occasion of the UK exhibition.
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
RA Summer Exhibition 2019
Through August 12, 2019
Royal Academy of Arts, London
Running annually since 1769, the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition is the world’s largest open-submission art show. It brings together art in all mediums—prints, paintings, film, photography, sculpture, architectural works and more—with some 1,200 works on display, many of them for the first time. Work by Michael Craig-Martin, Thomas Houseago, and Anselm Kiefer is included.
Thomas Houseago, Blue Owl, 2018 © Thomas Houseago
Bøker og tresnitt
Through September 14, 2019
Astrup Fearnley Museum, Oslo
This exhibition aims to point out the various connections Anselm Kiefer has with poetry, myths, history, philosophy, and alchemy, through a collection of artist’s books dating from the years 1969 to 2017, along with a selection of his woodcuts, the most recent of which are being shown for the first time. This exhibition has traveled from the Fondation Jan Michalski in Montricher, Switzerland.
Anselm Kiefer, Barren Landscape, 1987–89 © Anselm Kiefer
Livres et xylographies
February 8–May 12, 2019
Fondation Jan Michalski, Montricher, Switzerland
This exhibition aims to point out the many connections Anselm Kiefer has with poetry, myths, Sumerian and biblical stories, fairy tales, history, philosophy, kabbalah, and alchemy, through a collection of artist’s books dating from the years 1969 to 2017, along with a selection of his woodcuts, the most recent of which are being shown for the first time.
Anselm Kiefer, Territories and peoples of our time (A politico-geographical manual), 1976 © Anselm Kiefer
A Journey That Wasn’t
June 30, 2018–February 10, 2019
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