N’oubliez pas (Don’t forget) – Anselm Kiefer

Dimensions490 cm x 300 cm x 152
Materials Cast glass, cast bronze, cast aluminum, wood, and sandblasted glass
Photo: Karen Lehrer
Detail of the two cast glass dresses, photo: Karen Lehrer

Anselm Kiefer is a German Painter and sculptor born in 1945just after the close of WWII. He is of the generation of artists influenced by artistic approach of Joseph Beuys who he encountered as a professor while a student at the Art Academy of Dusseldorf. Kiefer has made it a point throughout his career to remind his viewers to never forget the terrible acts of Germany’s recent past and to make people aware that the awful plague of neo-Nazism continues not only in Germany but many other societies throughout the world.

Kiefer’s somber and often morbid paintings and sculptures make very powerful statements and help to communicate his moral center referencing Germany’s past so that it will never happen again. Some of these reoccurring themes such as train tracks disappearing into a vanishing point, a door through which one passes never to return, and the empty dresses women left behind once they entered the chambers of death are at the center of a large body of his work. On the other hand, wings and books appear in many of the large-scale sculptures. For me, the wings represent the mythical phoenix rising up from the ashes and the books evoke a metaphor for the communication of collective knowledge and the redemptive power of art.

Overall, Kiefer may be an artist difficult to understand as much of his work does not have such powerful and poignant inference, in particular the massive landscape and architectural paintings. In recent years, he has fostered that enigmatic personae. In the early 2000’s he purchased a large 80-acre tract in Barjac, France for an outdoor studio where amongst other things, he constructed towers of cement cast structures using the steel bodies of shipping containers to build the forms. The piece is called “Seven Heavenly Palaces and references the desire to ascend to the Devine.
I have brought many of the aforementioned elements into my documentary history of Anselm Kiefer’s artistic practice and I invite you to explore them in this work.

He currently lives and works in Paris.