Sunday 21 May 2017

Anselm Kiefer at the Museum fur Gegenwart, Berlin

'When I was studying, there was Pop Art. The Americans had released us from our duties. They sent us care packages and democracy. The search for your own identity was adjourned. After the 'misfortune', as we euphemistically say today, in 1945, we thought: now we'll start all over again. We still speak of a zero point but it can never exist, that's nonsense. The past became taboo and to take note of it was met with disgust and resistance'. Anselm Kiefer, 1986

Anselm Kiefer at the Museum fur Gegenwart (Museum for Contemporary Art), Hamburger Bahnhof

In his paintings, sculptures and installations, Anselm Kiefer addresses Germany's past and present as well as mythology and cosmology. His typically large-format paintings seem to be expressive and abstract at first but when viewed from a distance, they open up pictorial spaces that are overwhelming in their perspective. Kiefer is concerned with persons, symbols, concepts and events from German history that were ideologically cop-opted by the National Socialists. He opposes the repression during the Nazi period by putting these objects in relation to their partially uncritical continuation during the post-war era.

Leviathan, 1989

In the late 1980s, Kiefer engaged with the census that was conducted in West Germany in 1987. The painting Leviathan connects this controversial collection of personal data with the 1939 statistical survey in the German Reich, which was about the Jewish population for the Holocaust. Kiefer's work expresses this with train tracks running over bookshelves just as if they were leading to a concentration camp. The title Leviathan and the inscription behemoth are references to Jewish mysticism.

looking closer

looking closer

Schechina, 1999

Schechina refers to the 'indwelling', which in the Jewish religion is closely connected to the female aspects of God which illustrates its presence in the material world.

back view

a closer look at the shards of glass

view of the top

Grosse Eisenfaust Deutschland, 1979

This work alludes to the Panzerfaust, a weapon Hitler's combat troops used hoping to stop the Red Army from advancing in the last weeks of the war.

Lilith am Roten Meer, 1990

Lilith am Roten Meer (Lilith at the Red Sea) is dedicated to the first wife of Adam, who was punished when she demanded equality.

looking closer

looking closer

looking closer

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