Anselm Kiefer (born March 8, 1945) studied with Joseph Beuys and Peter Dreher during the 1970s. 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. Worldwide famous, Anselm Kiefer is mainly known for his paintings and sculptures even if his whole work originates in books that represent 60% of his creations. Paradoxically, there was no retrospective presenting his books in the past. His artist’s books are unique.
In his entire body of work, Kiefer argues with the past and addresses taboo and controversial issues from recent history. By 1970, while studying informally under Joseph Beuys at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, his stylistic leanings resembled Georg Baselitz’s approach. He worked with glass, straw, wood and plant parts. His works are characterised by an unflinching willingness to confront his culture’s dark past, and unrealized 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 places particularly pregnant with history. All of these are encoded sigils through which Kiefer seeks to process the past; this has resulted in his work being linked with a style called New Symbolism.
The most intimate aspects of the artistic universe of Kiefer organize the exhibition area in different spaces usually not accessible to the public: his workshop or his library. The exhibition will present two reading rooms and his first conceptual books using photography, another of Kiefer’s preferred media and an integral part of his work since 1968: a collection of books dedicated to writers, cosmogonies (The secret life of plants) or old myths (Gilgamesh and Enkidu); sand books, burnt books, books made of lead and recent books of erotic watercolours made on plaster. For the first time ever, Anselm Kiefer’s books will be presented in keeping with about ten other works, either sculptures or paintings that evoke books. A library, Shevirat Ha-Kelim (Breaking of the vessels), will also be presented. Made of about thirty volumes of broken lead and glass, it evokes the cabalistic myth of the divine act of creation according to Isaac Louria.