Anselm Kiefer

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Anselm Kiefer Photo

In September 2014, the Royal Academy of Arts in the UK showcased an exhibition which was referred to as the ‘most exciting show in Britain in over 20 years.’  The man of the moment was none other than ‘the colossus of contemporary art’ Anselm Kiefer.  The German’s extensive artistic voyage spans 40 years and today he is regarded as one of the finest artists working today. Named after classical painter Anselm Feuerbach, a young Anselm developed a strong inclination towards the art from an early age.

Anselm Kiefer’s artistic journey took him from Germany to France, Spain and England. He embodies the perfect definition of how an artist’s work encompasses both contemporary and classical elements. With every work of Kiefer’s there are numerous layers laden in history and German culture, it’s almost as if he is trying to atone for the atrocities of post-war Germany and present it in a humane form. Kiefer believes that only by talking about the past – something most Germans refrain from doing – can one built a better future. Every work of Kiefer has a personality of its own, for it is deeply enriched with the artists own person style. This style comprises of using large scales of lead, broken glass and dried flowers. Every layer is thick with these elements, heavily with both material and meaning. A prime example of this in his work is Black Flakes, to the normal it would seem like the painting of a decaying forest with barely there trees but it stood for much more than that. The theme of Black Forest is in fact ruin, which reminds the viewer that there will always be a lasting persistence of environment around us, even when it’s Mother Nature. Although Kiefer has never mentioned it publicly, many signs regarding the Black Flakes also point that it’s Kiefer laying homage to those who lost their lives at Auschwitz.

Kiefer also experimented with paper in the form of various sketches, watercolors and collaged photographs; this is prevalent in his works The Rhine (considered by many to be his masterpiece), Heavenly Jerusalem and the Wooden Room. What one sees as a viewer in these two works of art are beautifully finished, stand-alone pieces which leave a strong lasting impact. It’s formidable art in many ways, one which makes a normal art lover think that it is impossible to make such a tour de force piece for so much as gone into it; the thinking, the layers, colors, setting – everything put together in such a crystalline form. During his prime years, kiefer initially constructed art in the form of books. He basically played around with photographs, texts and letters compiling them all into another format which made them look like books but were much more. This is where Kiefer discovered that every matter related to art is indeed sacred, under the various layers of material and colors there is a sacred quality which exists. This was manifested in a lot of Kiefer’s future art works; he treats all of his paintings as if they are all books. He creates his art as if it’s something the viewer can read and gain a deeper understanding of. Being the spiritualist that Anselm Kiefer is, he firmly believes that art is searching for the truth all the time and acknowledges that obviously it’s not something it can ever get close to.


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