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Of the three Parsifal paintings displayed here, this one most resembles a stage set, with a spear occupying centre stage. It also includes a roll call of the chief players in the Parsifal saga: Guramet, the hero's father; Titurel, the ruler of the Grail; Amfortas, Titurel's son; Klingsor, a magician; and Kundry, a seductress. Parsifal's name appears on the window in reverse as 'Fal-parsi'. It was Parsifal's task to recover the spear from Klingsor so that peace could be restored to the kingdom of the Grail. But Kiefer is not entirely focused on the mythological past. The inscribed names (upper left) of the Baader Meinhof terrorist faction who disrupted the peace of post-war Germany jolt the viewer into contemporary history.

September 2004