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Anselm Kiefer

Artist 120

Anselm Kiefer Identity Painting

Anselm Kiefer (born 1945) is a German painter and sculptor. His works incorporate materials such as straw, ash, clay, lead and shellac.

The poems of Paul Celan have played a role in developing Kiefer's themes of German history and the horror of the Holocaust, as have the spiritual concepts of Kabbalah (a school of thought of Judaism).

In his entire body of work, Kiefer argues with the past and addresses taboo and controversial issues from recent history.

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.

Themes from Nazi Rule are particularly reflected in his work. His works are characterised by an unflinching willingness to confront his culture's dark past, and unrealised potential, in works that are often done on a large, confrontational scale well suited to the subjects.

It is also characteristic of his work to find signatures and/or names of people of historical importance, legendary figures or historical places.

All of these are encoded sigils through which Kiefer seeks to process the past.

Generally, Kiefer attributes traditional mythology, books, and libraries as his main subjects and sources of inspiration.

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 are as symbolically resonant as they are vast-ranging.

He deals with Abject both through his medium and his themes in his work. His exploration with the identity of post Nazi Germany is important in addressing the ‘Other’ that happens in wars and dealing with the trauma and reality of what happened. For both victims and perpetrators.


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