Audio transcript

Anselm Kiefer

Narrator: This room of works by the German artist Anselm Kiefer is introduced by Tate curator, Sean Rainbird

Anselm Kiefer was born in 1945, a particularly significant date for an artist coming from Germany. In his early works, the works from the late 'sixties, 'seventies and 1980s, he was particularly engaged with making an account for German history. And that involved him re-investigating, re-excavating Wagnerian legend, a particular kind of architecture connected with the Third Reich, and his response as a post-war artist living in what was then a divided Germany, in the western part of that divided Germany, and coming to terms as a German citizen, as a German artist with what had happened in the 1930s and '40s in Germany. He pursued this line of enquiry through a great number of works, one of which is for example the book called 'The Rhine', which takes a historical look at the main river in Germany. The Rhine is not just a river, of course, it carries history, it carries time in its flow. Later on in his career he has been looking at other kinds of ideology, other kinds of hero figures - in a group of works made in the late '90s and early Twenty-first Century, around the figure of Mao Tse-Tung, the Chinese leader of the '60s, '70s and '80s and his personality cult - almost suggesting that although this isn't a reprise of his earlier investigations into his own German history, he's still very interested in the idea of a people, of a nation coming to terms with an ideologically-driven past and how in Germany this process is very well advanced while in China there's some way to go before the Chinese people can confront their recent history.