Those visiting Paris will have the chance to view the new Anselm Kiefer Retrospective at the Centre Pompidou, the first to take place in France in the last thirty years, which opens its doors this Wednesday, 16 December, and will run until 18 April 2016.
Just under 150 works covering the artist’s career from the 1960’s to present day will be exhibited across the Galerie 1’s 2000 square meters, including 60 paintings – some of his most famous pieces like
Quaternität (1973), Resurrexit (1973), Varus (1976), Margarete (1981), Sulamith (1983) and Für Paul Celan: Aschenblumen (2006) – as well as, installations, 40 glass displays that were created especially for this exhibition, and were inspired by alchemy and Kabbalah, the Jewish esoteric tradition, along with works on paper and books.
Born in Germany in 1945, Anselm Kiefer is well known for having, along with his contemporaries, fellow German artists George Baselitz and Gerhard Richter, dealt with his country’s traumatic past and used history and ‘memory’ as the subject matter of his artistic creation.
When studying art in the 1960’s, Kiefer produced a series of controversial photographs in which he appeared with his arm up high in a Hitler salute, a provocative gesture that was meant to question Germany, which still struggled to deal with its past and suffered from ‘collective amnesia’.
Throughout his career, Kiefer has used art’s cathartic effect to revisit German and Nordic mythology, Albrecht Dürer’s apocalyptic imagery, Wagner’s dramaturgy, and Goethe and Caspar David Friedrich’s romanticism, all of which had been ‘contaminated’ by National Socialism. Tracing back Germany’s past, the artist discovers and finds inspiration in Jewish mysticism, and the history of a people marked by exile, destruction and reconciliation.
The exhibition will present a number of installations that were created from 1993 to 2007 in ‘La Ribaute’, Anselm Kiefer’s property and studio at Barjac in the South of France. In this old factory, Kiefer produced a new form of land art, by building concrete installations, gathering old machinery, industrial waste, fabric and all sorts of natural materials for his large-scale works. The Barjac site offers visitors a multisensory experience as they are led through containers, bunkers, tunnels and towers in ruin where parts of old military aircrafts and huge sculptures are used to recreate ‘cinematic’ disaster scenes that urge one to lose the sense of time, as brilliantly featured in Sophie Fiennes’ 2010 documentary, ‘Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow’. The artist moved numerous of these works to Croissy, near Paris in 2008, where he acquired an old warehouse, and continues to produce ambitious large-scale works.
The Anselm Kiefer Retrospective is an intriguing journey into the world of this post-modern artist par excellence, that will give visitors the chance to explore the spectacular, physical quality and biting realism of his work.
All images, Courtesy of Centre Pompidou, Paris