between painting and sculpture

German-born artist Anselm Kiefer is currently exhibiting at the Gagosian Gallery in New York. His work has been displayed in major museums throughout the world.

Anselm KieferAnselm Kiefer, Laßt tausend Blumen blühen!

His work is diverse and compelling.  From the image above, a spring-like, airy painting, to the image below, a dark, foreboding work, I am drawn to his creations, and I’m not quite sure why. Maybe because the influence of mythology comes through in his pieces, and I love the history and magic of storytelling and fairy tales.

His subject-matter ranges over sources as diverse as Teutonic mythology and history, alchemy and the nature of belief, all depicted in a bewildering variety of materials, including oil paint, dirt, lead, models, photographs, woodcuts, sand, straw and all manner of organic material. By adding found materials to the painted surface of his immense tableaux, he invents a compelling third space between painting and sculpture. –from White Cube

Anselm KieferAnselm Kiefer, Shulamith , 1983
Oil, acrylic, emulsion, shellac, straw and woodcut fragments on canvas

Many of his works are huge pieces of art.  Take a look at the one pictured below – it is approx. 12 feet by 18 feet wide.

Anselm KieferAnselm Kiefer, Zim Zum, 1990
Acrylic, emulsion, crayon, shellac, ashes, and canvas on lead, 149 3/4 x 220 1/2 in.

For his exhibition at MoMA in 1988-89, they actually had to reinforce the museum walls to support the weight of the huge, often lead-covered canvases.  It is interesting to hear Kiefer talking about his work and the process.  (See You Tube video) He takes photographs wherever he goes, and uses them for inspiration.  He speaks of finishing a painting, then not being satisfied with it, so he placed it on the floor and threw dirt on it.  Then he let the painting bake in the sun, drying and cracking the soil.  Then he continued with more layers of paint.  Considering the long lists of materials in his paintings, and their size, I can see how heavy his work must become.

Anselm KieferAnslem Kiefer, Burning Rods
oil, acrylic, emulsion, and shellac on canvas with ceramic, iron, copper wire, and lead

In 2007 he created a permanent installation in the Louvre – the first living artist to have that honor since Georges Braque in 1953.

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