Sunday, 28 September 2014

Anselm Kiefer - Royal Academy of Arts

Anselm Kiefer, The Language of the Birds, 2013
Anselm Kiefer is at the Royal Academy of Arts until 14 December 2014.
It is a pointless exercise (but not unenjoyable) to argue the toss about who might be the 'greatest living artist' - but, for my money, Anselm Kiefer is a contender. 
This exhibition at the RA promises much (see Rachel Cooke's review: only with the help of a blindfold would you be able to wander the Royal Academy’s stupendous retrospective of his work and leave feeling anything less than drunk with amazement). Kiefer is nothing if not ambitious both in terms of physical scale and his deployment of materials (lead, steel, straw, clay, copper wire, wood, seeds, sand, ash, oil paint...) and in the cultural richness of his themes. Born in 1945 Kiefer's preoccupation has been confronting the trauma and guilt of Germany's Nazi history - a history which for the post-war generation was effectively suppressed. Kiefer draws on references which include German Romanticism (Caspar David Friedrich), mythology, the Kabbalah, Nazi architecture and the poetry of Paul Celan whose parents perished in Nazi labour camps and who was himself interned. This is serious art. My ticket is booked.
Read reviews by Rachel Cooke, Waldemar Januszczak, Alastair Sooke, Sebastian Smee, John-Paul Stonhard,and Jonathan Jones; read accounts of Kiefer's astonishing 'studio' complex by Michael Prodger and Mark Hudson. (Click on images to enlarge.)

Anselm Kiefer, Black Flakes (Schwarze Flocken), 2006

Anselm Kiefer, Interior (Innenraum), 1981

Anselm Kiefer, Nothung, 1973

Anselm Kiefer, Operation Sea Lion (Unternehmen Seelowe), 1975

Anselm Kiefer, Osiris and Isis, 1985-87

Anselm Kiefer, Velimir Khlebnikov: Fates of Nations: The New Theory of War. Time, Dimension of the World, Battles at Sea Occur Every 317 Years or Multiples Thereof, Namely 317 x 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 . . . . . . . ., 2011-14

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