Anselm Kiefer, ‘Morgenthau Plan’, 2012, Gagosian

About Anselm Kiefer

Anselm Kiefer critically engages with myth and memory, referencing totems of German culture and collective history. “Germans want to forget [the past] and start a new thing all the time, but only by going into the past can you go into the future,” he says. Revealing the influence of his tutelage under Joseph Beuys, Kiefer's epic-scaled, dense sculptures and paintings are often exposed to elements like acid and fire, and incorporate materials such as lead, burned books, concrete, thorny branches, ashes, and clothing; famed critic and historian Simon Schama has described his work as “heavy-load maximalism.” Kiefer’s vast-ranging references have included the Black Forest, Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle, and Caspar David Friedrich’s Romantic landscapes, as well as Kabbalah mysticism, Cold War politics, National Socialist architecture, and Paul Celan’s seminal body of post-Holocaust poetry. “Art is difficult,” he says. “It’s not entertainment.”

German, b. 1945, Donauschingen, Germany, based in France