I have been a stranger in a strange land.
Gagosian is pleased to announce Exodus, an exhibition of new work by Anselm Kiefer in New York and Los Angeles, to open on November 12 at 555 West 24th Street, New York, and on November 19 at Gagosian at Marciano Art Foundation, 4357 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles.
The large-scale paintings on view in New York and Los Angeles employ a wide range of materials including paint, terra-cotta, fabric, rope, wire, found objects, sediment of electrolysis, and metal—including copper and gold leaf. Mixing the abject and the exalted, these works are imbued with gesture, a sense of metamorphosis, and alchemical symbolism.
Kiefer’s syncretic approach to materials extends to his understanding of history, literature, and mythology as forces that inform the present. In this new body of work, he incorporates inscriptions in Hebrew from the book of Exodus, with thematic references to its narrative blended with a diversity of other sources. Full of symbolic thresholds between peoples, places, and times, the paintings are metaphysical allegories that meditate on loss and deliverance, dispossession and homecoming.
The exhibition in New York features paintings of monumental buildings and ruins. Their architectural symbolism is permeated with themes found in Exodus and developed by writers who have long inspired Kiefer, including Paul Celan and E.T.A. Hoffmann. Danaë (2016–21) anchors the installation, fusing a representation of the vast interior of Tempelhof Airport in Berlin with the ancient Greek myth of Zeus transfigured into a shower of gold, leading to the prominent use of gold leaf in the painting. The storied site was built in an area belonging to the Knights Templar in the Middle Ages, opened as an airport complex in 1923, was developed extensively under the Third Reich, and played a critical role in the Berlin Airlift during the Cold War. Significantly, the decommissioned facility was recently used to provide temporary shelter for refugees, connecting it to the themes of Exodus. Other buildings represented in the paintings include Montecassino Abbey in Italy; Albert Speer’s Zeppelin Grandstand in Nuremberg, Germany; and Louis Kahn’s Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, India—all historically and culturally resonant structures.
In paintings such as Für E.T.A. HOFFMANN (2021), empty clothing attached to the surfaces stand in for human figures. Another group of paintings combines landscape elements with improvised vehicles—grocery carts, luggage dollies, and bicycles—that function as means of transport between realms. Laden with bundles, these objects recall their contemporary use by those who are displaced from home or seeking one, or by immigrants arriving in a new land, fleeing from war, oppression, and natural disasters.
In the works on view at Gagosian at Marciano Art Foundation in Los Angeles, Kiefer further elaborates themes of loss, history, and redemption. Exodus (2012–21) is demarcated between the lower register with a landscape of paint and straw affixed to the canvas, and a dynamic composition above that whirls in concentric circles, centering on clusters of forms that envelop a bicycle. The link between the terrestrial and the celestial carries through in the ladder between the two spheres in En Sof (2020–22), and the emanation of Wolkensäule (Column of Clouds) (2009–21). A suspended sculpture of a modern naval vessel stands in for the destruction of the pharaoh’s military in the narrative of the parting of the Red Sea found in Exodus, as recounted in the title of And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as a heap (2020).
Another pair of paintings on view in Los Angeles feature grounds of gold leaf, over which a cascade of mangled shopping carts and straw mats is suspended. In one, artist’s palettes and brushes are intermixed, conveying the symbolic weight and materiality that are central to Kiefer’s art making, as well as the transcendence of creative work and its ability to traverse between the earthly and the divine. These themes are shared by Phoenix (2018–19), a large sculpture of a winged palette composed of stainless steel and lead.
A fully illustrated catalogue will be published to accompany the exhibition. The presentation at Marciano Art Foundation will include a selection of Gagosian publications and a reading room dedicated to monographs on Kiefer that features a selection of rare books.
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Gagosian Quarterly Winter 2022
The Winter 2022 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Anna Weyant’s Two Eileens (2022) on its cover.
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.
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