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Anselm Kiefer

hortus philosophorum

April 3–May 23, 2009
Rome

Installation view Artwork © Anselm Kiefer. Photo: Giorgio Benni

Installation view

Artwork © Anselm Kiefer. Photo: Giorgio Benni

Installation view Artwork © Anselm Kiefer. Photo: Giorgio Benni

Installation view

Artwork © Anselm Kiefer. Photo: Giorgio Benni

Works Exhibited

Anselm Kiefer, Danae, 2008 Lead, gold granules, and aluminum sunflowers, 53 ¼ × 63 × 149 ½ inches (135.3 × 160 × 379.7 cm)© Anselm Kiefer

Anselm Kiefer, Danae, 2008

Lead, gold granules, and aluminum sunflowers, 53 ¼ × 63 × 149 ½ inches (135.3 × 160 × 379.7 cm)
© Anselm Kiefer

Anselm Kiefer, Totes Meer, 2008 Lead, glass, and acrylic, 49 ¼ × 90 ½ inches (125.1 × 229.9 cm)© Anselm Kiefer

Anselm Kiefer, Totes Meer, 2008

Lead, glass, and acrylic, 49 ¼ × 90 ½ inches (125.1 × 229.9 cm)
© Anselm Kiefer

Anselm Kiefer, Geheimnis der Farne, 2008 Lead and resin ferns, 55 × 78 ¾ × 78 ¾ inches (140 × 200 × 200 cm)© Anselm Kiefer

Anselm Kiefer, Geheimnis der Farne, 2008

Lead and resin ferns, 55 × 78 ¾ × 78 ¾ inches (140 × 200 × 200 cm)
© Anselm Kiefer

Anselm Kiefer, Verunglückte Hoffnung, 2008 Lead and pottery, 51 ¼ × 67 × 78 ¾ inches (130.2 × 170.2 × 200 cm)© Anselm Kiefer

Anselm Kiefer, Verunglückte Hoffnung, 2008

Lead and pottery, 51 ¼ × 67 × 78 ¾ inches (130.2 × 170.2 × 200 cm)
© Anselm Kiefer

Anselm Kiefer, hortus conclusus, 2009 Gouache on photo paper, 69 ⅜ × 55 ⅞ inches (176 × 142 cm)© Anselm Kiefer

Anselm Kiefer, hortus conclusus, 2009

Gouache on photo paper, 69 ⅜ × 55 ⅞ inches (176 × 142 cm)
© Anselm Kiefer

About

Rubble represents not only an end, but also a beginning. In reality, the so-called “Stunde Null” (zero hour) never existed. Rubble is like the blossom of a plant; it is the radiant highpoint of an incessant metabolism, the beginning of a rebirth. And the longer we can put off refilling empty spaces, the more fully and intensively we can produce a past that proceeds with the future as if reflected in a mirror. The “Stunde Null” does not exist. Emptiness bares its opposite within itself.
—Anselm Kiefer

Gagosian is pleased to present an exhibition of sculpture and photo-collages by Anselm Kiefer.

For the oval gallery, Kiefer has created a group of eight sculptures that evoke some of the central themes in his work deriving from his assiduous study of poetry, mythology, and cultural history. Each of the sculptures incorporates irregular stacks of massive books made from lead. Among them are Paete, non dolet (It does not hurt), which alludes to the ancient Roman myth of Arria and Paetus; Bilderstreit, which relates to the famous historical controversy over the use of religious imagery in the Byzantine Empire during the eighth and ninth centuries, recast by Kiefer to represent his premise that “spiritual things such as art are always menaced by real physical power”; and Sternenfall (Falling Stars), a scattering of glass shards inscribed with numbers corresponding to stars in the charted galaxy. Another pervasive theme here, and in Kiefer’s oeuvre in general, is great ships and sea vessels. Verunglückte Hoffnung is directly inspired by Caspar David Friedrich’s dark masterpiece, The Wreck of the Hope, a tectonic depiction of a shipwreck in the Arctic Ocean that reached beyond documentary to suggest an allegory of human aspiration crushed by nature’s immense and glacial indifference.

In addition to the sculptures are eight unusually large vertical collages based on photographs of Kiefer’s The Seven Heavenly Palaces (2005), a series of monumental towers cast from concrete and lead intended to symbolize the mystical experience of the ascent through the seven levels of spirituality. The untitled collages treat the theme of Ararat, the mountain on which Noah’s Ark came to rest when the floodwaters receded.

Kiefer’s monumental archive of human memory gives overt material presence to a broad range of cultural myths and metaphors, from the Old and New Testaments to the Kabbalah, from ancient Roman history to the poetry of Ingeborg Bachmann and Paul Celan. By constructing elaborate scenographies that cross the boundaries of art and literature, painting and sculpture, Kiefer engages the complex events of history; the ancestral epics of life, death, and the cosmos; and the fragile endurance of the sacred and the spiritual amid the ongoing destruction of the world.

Le macerie rappresentano non solo la fine ma anche un inizio. In realtà la cosidetta Ora Zero non è mai esistita. Le macerie sono come il fiorire di una pianta, il culmine radioso di un incessante metabolismo, l’inizio di una rinascita. E più a lungo possiamo posticipare il riempimento degli spazi vuoti, meglio e più intensamente riusciamo a produrre un passato che continua nel futuro come se riflesso in uno specchio. L’Ora Zero non esiste. Il vuoto svela il suo opposto dentro di sé.
—Anselm Kiefer

Gagosian è lieta di annunciare una mostra di nuove sculture e fotocollages di Anselm Kiefer.

Per lo spazio romano Kiefer ha creato un gruppo di otto importanti sculture in cui pile irregolari di massicci libri di piombo evocano alcuni dei temi centrali del suo lavoro, poesia, mitologia e storia.

Tra queste, Paete, non dolet (O Peto, non fa male) si ispira all’antico mito di Arria e Paeto; Bilderstreit, parte da un tema ricorrente legato alla famosa controversia sull’uso delle immagini religiose nell’impero bizantino durante l’VIII e IX secolo, che Kiefer usa per dimostrare la sua teoria che “le cose spirituali come l’arte sono sempre minacciate dal potere fisico”; e Sternenfall (Stelle cadenti) una cascata di schegge di vetro sulle quali sono scritti i numeri corrispondenti alle varie stelle della galassia. Un altro tema importante qui ed in generale nella produzione di Kiefer è quello delle grandi navi. Verunglückte Hoffnung è direttamente ispirata al capolavoro di Caspar David Friedrich Il Naufragio della Speranza, l’aspra rappresentazione del famoso disastro avvenuto nel mare artico che riuscì ad andare oltre la documentazione finendo a simboleggiare l’allegoria delle aspirazioni umane distrutte dalla immensa e glaciale indifferenza della natura.

Oltre alle sculture saranno in mostra alcuni collages di grandi dimensioni elaborati su fotografie de I Sette Palazzi Celesti (2005), una serie di monumentali torri di piombo e cemento realizzati a Milano, simbolo dell’esperienza mistica nell’ascesa attraverso i sette livelli della spiritualità. I collage hanno come soggetto Ararat, la montagna dove approdò l’Arca di Noè una volta terminato il diluvio universale.

Il monumentale archivio mnemonico di Kiefer materializza un ampio immaginario di miti e metafore dall’Antico e Nuovo Testamento alla Cabala, dalla storia della Roma antica alla poesia di Ingeborg Bachmann e Paul Celan. Nel costruire elaborate scenografie che attraversano i confini di arte e letteratura, pittura e scultura, Kiefer chiama in causa i complessi eventi della storia, l’epica ancestrale della vita, la morte, il cosmo e la fragile resistenza del sacro e dello spirituale in balìa della distruzione del mondo.

Anna Weyant’s Two Eileens (2022) on the cover of Gagosian Quarterly, Winter 2022

Now available
Gagosian Quarterly Winter 2022

The Winter 2022 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Anna Weyant’s Two Eileens (2022) on its cover.

Michael Govan and Anselm Kiefer

In Conversation
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.

Hans Ulrich Obrist’s Questionnaire: Anselm Kiefer

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.

Darkly lit road, trees, and building exterior at La Ribaute, Barjac, France.

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. 

Two dress sculptures in the landscape at Barjac

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, 1928. Photo: Lou Andreas-Salomé

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.