Artist biography

German painter. In 1969 he studied at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Karlsruhe, and in 1970 he moved to the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, where he met Joseph Beuys. History and myth were the central themes in his work: he attempted by means of drawing and symbols to expose the many-layered quality of historical processes, in order ‘to approach in an unscientific way the centre from which events are controlled' (Kiefer, Art, 1990).

In 1971 Kiefer produced his first large-scale landscape paintings, and from 1973 he produced painted wooden interiors that created a monumental effect. His preoccupation with the spirit and forms of Nazi rule in Germany is seen, finally, in his pictures reflecting the architecture of the 1930s and specifically the buildings of Albert Speer. Figures and events from mythology, as well as Old Testament subjects were depicted in repeated variations. He made increasing use of materials such as sand, straw, wood and photographs, as well as sewn material and toy soldiers.

He developed another motif in three-dimensional aircraft sculptures. From 1974 the motif of the palette became a symbol of Kiefer's passage through the strata of history. Apart from the symbolic use of materials, extensive titles usually inserted in childish writing are an important part of his work. These give rise to an overlaying and intertwining of formal hints and associations with those relating to content. The emotional effect combines with Kiefer's historical recollection to produce a dialogue with history.

Anselm Kiefer (exh. cat. by M. Rosenthal, Chicago, MI, A. Inst.; Philadelphia, PA, Mus. A.; Los Angeles, CA, Mus. Contemp. A.; New York, MOMA; 1987–9)
Anselm Kiefer: Bücher, 1969–1990 (exh. cat., ed. G. Adriani; Tübingen, Ksthalle; Munich, Kstver.; Zurich, Ksthaus; 1990)
Anselm Kiefer (exh. cat. by D. Honisch and others, Berlin, Neue N.G., 1991)


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