Anselm Kiefer (born 8 March 1945) is a German painter and sculptor. He studied with Peter Dreher and Horst Antes at the end of the 1960s. His works incorporate materials such as straw, ash, clay, lead, and shellac. The poems of Paul Celan have played a role in developing Kiefer's themes of German history and the horror of the Holocaust, as have the spiritual concepts of Kabbalah.
In his entire body of work, Kiefer argues with the past and addresses taboo and controversial issues from recent history. Themes from Nazi rule are particularly reflected in his work; for instance, the painting Margarethe (oil and straw on canvas) was inspired by Celan's well-known poem "Todesfuge" ("Death Fugue").
His works are characterised by an unflinching willingness to confront his culture's dark past, and unrealised potential, in works that are often done on a large, confrontational scale well suited to the subjects. It is also characteristic of his work to find signatures and names of people of historical importance, legendary figures or historical places. All of these are encoded sigils through which Kiefer seeks to process the past; this has resulted in his work being linked with the movements New Symbolism and Neo–Expressionism.
Kiefer has lived and worked in France since 1992. Since 2008, he has lived and worked primarily in Paris. In 2018, he was awarded Austrian citizenship.
Artist as subject
Film and audio
The term Neue Wilde was used in Germany for neo-expressionism, a movement which saw the re-emergence of expressive painting in …
Environmental art is art that addresses social and political issues relating to the natural and urban environment
In FocusResearching Anselm Kiefer’s Heroic Symbols 1969
The most detailed investigation of this photographic series to date, this In Focus explores the ongoing use of the prints …
To coincide with Tate Modern’s exhibition of paintings by the Danish artist, the career of Per Kirkeby is explored – …
Tate EtcMartin Kippenberger
Recent research indicates that the taught curriculum in art and design secondary school education pays scant attention to meaning-making in …
What is the place of documentary photography in art? This is the central question raised by Tate's first major exhibition …