The Shape of Ancient Thought

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

Exhibition Highlights On Artsy

2015
Anselm Kiefer, Centre Pompidou, Paris
2014
Anselm Kiefer, Royal Academy of Arts
2013
Anselm Kiefer: Morgenthau Plan, Gagosian Gallery, New York
2012
Anselm Kiefer: Morgenthau Plan, Gagosian Gallery, Le Bourget

Solo Shows on Artsy

2015
Anselm Kiefer, Centre Pompidou, Paris
2015
Anselm Kiefer. Bilderstreit, Setareh Gallery, Düsseldorf
2014
Anselm Kiefer, Royal Academy of Arts
2013
Anselm Kiefer: Morgenthau Plan, Gagosian Gallery, New York
2012
Anselm Kiefer: Morgenthau Plan, Gagosian Gallery, Le Bourget
2010
Anselm Kiefer: Next Year In Jerusalem, Gagosian Gallery, New York

Group Shows on Artsy

2016
The Doris and Donald Fisher Collection, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), San Francisco
2015
Artists in Their Time, Istanbul Modern, Istanbul
2015
Light and the Space of the Void, Sandra Gering Inc, New York
2014
Bad Thoughts - Collection Martijn and Jeannette Sanders, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Amsterdam
2014
Main Room, Arsenal Montréal+Toronto, Montreal
2012
Armory 2012 (Pier 92), Galerie Thomas, Munich

Fair History on Artsy

View Artist's CV