Anselm Kiefer’s (Donaueschingen, Germany, 1945) first solo exhibition in Spain carries the poetic title El viento, el tiempo, el silencio. The artistic rhetoric of the German artist is shown by the size of his monumental paintings and a wide selection of the artist’s books. Kiefer creates a mirror relationship between images and references which, on one hand, come from the Cabala, Alchemy, Germanity and the Cosmos; and on the other German history turned into myth. Genesis and Babel, continuous erosion and revival are the opposites from which he establishes and develops a morbid recollection of history itself. Thus, the German artist presents himself as the instrument of a metamorphosis capable of re-establishing a dialogue between civilisation and history.
This tendency is shown in his work where he recreates libraries constructed in brick or scenarios that are stripped bare and empty, like in Der sand aus den urnen (1997) and in the series Sternen-lager II (1998). By using brick he is referring to mythical cities in antiquity such as Ur and Nineveh (home of the great library of Mesopotamia and flooded as a result of the deluge of heavy waters). With these references, Kiefer offers an image of the decline of our civilization. Despite this, he recognises the possibility of poetry among the devastation, when he writes the titles of his pieces on a thick mixture of sand and acrylic resin with which he works.
A student of Joseph Beuys at the Academy of Fine Arts in Dusseldorf between 1971 and 1972, Kiefer makes matter, and therefore the materiality of painting, the place where the transition of the idea is placed on the piece. In the works that make up this exhibition, as well as in books, sunflowers and their seeds play a special role, as resource, metaphor and pictorial material in pieces such as Für Robert Fludd (1996), Die Aschenblum (1997) or Geheime Leben der Pflanzen (1998). Time also becomes part of his work and not metaphorically, as illustrated by the fifteen books on white sprinkled with yellow spots -the artist’s own sperm- which make up 20 Jahre Einsamkeit (1971-1991).
Kiefer is part of the New German Expressionism, which stands out in the Seventies and includes Georg Baselitz, Markus Lüpertz and A.R. Penck among others. His work brings out a personal mythology with which he reviews, analyses and enhances the artistic heritage of the avant-garde and recent political events with the desire to create a painting that has emotional impact. Kiefer is no stranger to the weight of culture that burdens and falls into his work, for this reason -as noted by some critics- his work is based on the aesthetic appeal of the mess. His paintings are, in the words of art critic Fernando Castro Flórez, "tortuous pictorial paths, ranging from a historical subject from Nibelung mythology to the National Socialist catastrophe."
Reina Sofia Museum's Publications