Home Magazine Poetry and Myth for Anselm Kiefer

Every month we chose different personalities from the art world to bring you inside the most deeply part of their poetry. Wich is why let us seize the opportunity to speak about the German artist Anselm Kiefer that, from the 8 February to the 12 May, is the protagonist of a solo show at the Fondation Jan Michalski in Switzerland.  

Because of the nature of this temple dedicated to the importance of the language and writing, characterized by the presence of a huge library, the exhibition focuses on the artist's relationship with the book, in particular, on his vast number of large chalk notebooks and works about mythological adventures. Indeed, from the beginning of his career, Kiefer has lent close attention to the history of his born place, following the route of who he considers his master, Joseph Beyus. After their meeting in 1972, Kiefer’s research had an important turning point into more conceptual art.


La mer Rouge, 2014, pp. 12-13, Aquarelle et mine de plomb sur carton enduit de plâtre, 20 pages, 66 x 49,4 x 5 cm (fermé),
Collection particulière. © Anselm Kiefer | Photo © Charles Duprat


Joseph Beuys himself encouraged the artist to use enormous canvases on which insert visual symbols for comment with irony and sarcasm some tragic aspects of the German history and culture, in particular from the Nazi period. 

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Pour Jean Genet, 1969, pp. 4-5 Photographies noir et blanc, gouache, roses séchées, aquarelle sur papier et mine de plomb sur carton, relié 10 pages, 49,5 x 35 x 5 cm (fermé),
Collection particulière. © Anselm Kiefer | Photo © Charles Duprat


In 1969 Anselm Kiefer created a series of works called "Besetzungen" (Occupations) where he was photographed with his arm raised in Hitler's greeting, in front of different places that for him assumed importance from the historical or mythological point of view. In 1971 the painter married his close friend Julia and moved in Ornbach in a former school building, where the austere wooden beams of the attic become protagonists of a great canvas titled "Deutschlands Geisteshelden, heroic Germany". Finally, in the eighties, after having exhibited in the German pavilion of the Venice Biennale the cycle "Verbrennen" -"Verholzen" - "Versenken" - "Versanden"; the artist started to paint very intense and realistic interiors and landscapes, thanks to use of perspective devices and by the incorporation of original compositions on the canvas surface. In this period he also works to the series "Interiors" (1981), where he extended his study to Jewish and Egyptian history, as demonstrated in the great painting "Osiris and Isis" (1985-87) or the later monumental installation for Pirelli HangarBicocca “I Sette Palazzi Celesti”. Don't miss our latest article about the new solo show of Giorgio Andreotta Calò at Pirelli HangarBicoccat!


Territoires et peuples de notre temps (Un manuel de géographie politique), 1976, pp.30-31, Mine de plomb, encre et stylo feutre sur l'ouvrage, Räume und Völker in unserer Zeit (Deutsche-Atlantische Gesellschaft, Munich, Südwest-Verlag, 1963), 152 pages, 31 x 21,5 x 1 cm (fermé), Collection particulière. © Anselm Kiefer | Photo © Georges Poncet


Returning on "Anselm Kiefer │ Books and woodcuts", curated by Natalia Granero, the Jan Michalski Foundation, Gunnar B. Kvaran and Astrup Fearnley Museet, this exhibition represent a time leap in the years 1968 and 1969 when books expressed ideas, associations and thoughts of the artist, and when these books quickly became a place for exploration. Poetry, myths, Sumerian and Biblical stories, fairytales, history, philosophy, Kabbalah, alchemy, and more... the subjects elaborated in this period were then rescaled within the body of work as a whole, notably in his output of woodcuts. Indeed, art of the printmaking has allowed Kiefer to envision narrative forms in a completely different space from that of the painted canvas. Discover more about this exhibition on the Fondation  Jan  Michalski web site.


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