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 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.
Tuesday, November 28, 2023, 7pm
IFC Center, New York
Join Gagosian and White Cube for a special screening of Anselm (2023), an immersive 3D documentary directed by Wim Wenders, which premiered at Festival de Cannes 2023. For over two years, Wenders traced Anselm Kiefer’s path from his native Germany to his former studio complex in southern France—now part of his foundation, Eschaton—weaving together pivotal moments in the artist’s life and decades-long career. This unique cinematic experience dives deep into Kiefer’s practice and reveals his inspiration and creative process, exploring his fascination with myth and history.
Still from Anselm (2023), directed by Wim Wenders
Anselm Kiefer in
Les Fleurs du Mal
October 18–November 13, 2023
Maison Guerlain, Paris
Les Fleurs du Mal, inspired by Charles Baudelaire’s poetry collection of the same name, is the sixteenth annual show at Maison Guerlain. The exhibition, whose title translates to The Flowers of Evil, addresses the kaleidoscopic world of flowers in paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations, and photographs by twenty-six contemporary artists. Work by Anselm Kiefer is included.
Anselm Kiefer, Extases féminines—Margherite Porete (Feminine Ecstasies––Margherite Porete), 2012 © Anselm Kiefer
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
Dix und die Gegenwart
Through February 25, 2024
Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Germany
This exhibition, whose title translates to Dix and the Present, explores the work of Otto Dix (1891–1969) and the artist’s enduring influence. It focuses on the ostensibly apolitical work Dix created beginning in 1933, which was less aggressive than his radical and provocative paintings of the 1920s. His Nazi-era landscapes, commissioned portraits, and Christian allegories were instead subtle and subversive forms of contemporary social critique. The exhibition aims to reveal the shifting cultural and social parameters in the reception of Dix’s art, while also demonstrating how his oeuvre continues to fascinate more than forty contemporary artists. Work by Georg Baselitz, Glenn Brown, John Currin, Nan Goldin, and Anselm Kiefer is included.
Glenn Brown, The Holy Bible, 2022 © Glenn Brown
Through February 25, 2024
Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar, Netherlands
This exhibition features paintings, sculptures, artist’s books, and installations by Anselm Kiefer, many of which have never been shown before. A close collaboration between the artist and Museum Voorlinden, it highlights the breadth of Kiefer’s interests, including history, mythology, and literature.
Anselm Kiefer, Aus Herzen und Hirnen sprießen die Halme der Nacht (From Hearts and Brains the Stalks of Night Are Sprouting), 2019–20, Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar, Netherlands © Anselm Kiefer. Photo: Thomas Lannes
La photographie au commencement
Through March 3, 2024
Lille Métropole Musée d’art moderne, d’art contemporain et d’art brut, Villeneuve-d’Ascq, France
This retrospective, whose title translates to Photography at the Beginning, is the first to focus on Anselm Kiefer’s relationship with photography, and features over a hundred works from throughout his career. This underrecognized aspect of his practice has been central to the artist’s work from the late 1960s through the present. The exhibition examines themes and inspirations that have informed Kiefer’s approach over the last fifty years and includes paintings, books, and sculptures that complement the photographic works on display, and demonstrate their integral role within the artist’s oeuvre.
Installation view, Anselm Kiefer: La photographie au commencement, Lille Métropole Musée d’art moderne, d’art contemporain et d’art brut, Villeneuve-d’Ascq, France, October 6, 2023–March 3, 2024 © Anselm Kiefer. Photo: Nicholas Dewitte
June 9–September 3, 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