Anselm Kiefer (German, b.1945) is a contemporary painter and sculptor. Born in southern Germany in 1945 during the final months of World War II, Kiefer’s life has been characterized a post-war identity from the very start. He studied law and linguistics before deciding to pursue art in 1966. He gained critical attention in 1969 for his series of provocative works entitled Occupations, in which Kiefer photographed himself standing in iconic European sites, such as the Roman Coliseum, wearing a military outfit and making a Nazi salute. This is an early example of a pervasive theme in Kiefer’s art: the attempt to reconcile Germany’s fascist past, an entirely taboo topic in the country at the time.

In the early 1970s, Kiefer studied under controversial German performance artist Joseph Beuys (German, 1921–1986) at the Düsseldorf Academy of Art; Beuys’s work with unusual natural materials and interest in mysticism heavily influenced Kiefer’s own artistic production. Intertwining history, culture, religion, and myth, Kiefer began exploring archetypal figures from German history in his work, as well as creating heavily textured painted landscapes depicting barren, somber fields and forests, which evoke scenes of concentration camps and allude to the broken nature of Germany’s post-war identity. His works incorporate plant elements, straw, lead, and other materials reflecting his interest in alchemy, ritual, and the fundamental elements of the earth. In later works, Kiefer shifts his focus from works contemplating Germany’s past to a concentration on universal themes of religion, the cosmos, and ancient myth, in mediums as diverse as painting, installation art, photography, and sculptural books. His recent paintings are heavily textured and of a monumental scale, and are sometimes compared to the Abstract Expressionist works of Jackson Pollock (American, 1912–1956). Kiefer’s dense, unique compositions reflect a powerful synthesis of ideas—spanning history, culture, nature, religion, everyday reality and universal belief—marking him a preeminent contemporary German artist. He currently lives and works in southern France.

Timeline

1945
Born in Donaueschingen, Germany
1993
Until 1993 worked in Buchen, Germany. From 1993 onwards has been working and living in Barjac, France
Lives and works in Provence, France

Exhibitions

2013
Un Maestro de la Pintura, Museum of Contemporary Art, Gas Natural Fenosa, A Coruña
Der Rhein, Galerie Bastian, Berlin
2013
ARCO Madrid, Spain
2012
Exposition, Galleria Lia Rumma, Milan
Joseph Beuys and Anselm Kiefer: Drawings, Gouaches, Books; MKM Küppersmühle Museum of Modern Art, Duisberg
Am Anfang, Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn
Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom, White Cube Hong Kong
Works from the Essl Collection, Essl Museum, Vienna
2011
Anselm Kiefer: Il Mistero delle Cattedrali, White Cube, London
Anselm Kiefer: Shevirat Ha-Kelim, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel
Ausgewahlte Arbeiten aus der Sammluing Grothe, Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden
Salt of the Earth, Fondazione Vedova, Venice
Kiefer & Rembrandt, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Des Meeres und der Liebe Wellen, White Cube, London
Anselm Kiefer: Die Argonauten, Ivory Press, Madrid
2010
Anselm Kiefer: Artist Rooms, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK
Anselm Kiefer, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark
Anselm Kiefer: Europa, Villa Schöningen, Berlin
Anselm Kiefer, Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen, Antwerp
Anselm Kiefer dans la Collection Würth, Musée Würth France Erstein
2009
Works from the Grothe Collection, Es Baluard Museum of Art, Palma de Mallorca, Spain
2009
Sculpture in the Close, Jesus College, Cambridge, England
2008–2009
Mediations Biennale, 1st International Biennale of Contemporary Art, Poznan, Poland, 3 October – 3 January 2009
2008
Maria Walks Amid the Thorn, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Salzburg, 24 July – 23 August
2008
Blood on Paper: the Art of the Book, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England
2008
Lovis Corinth (1858-1925) Between Impressionism and Expressionism, Musée d’Orsay, Paris
2008
Palmsonntag, Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles -solo
2008
Kiefer e Mao Che mille fiori fioriscano, Triennial Bovisa, Milan
2007
Anselm Kiefer: Aperiatur Terra, White Cube Mason's Yard, London; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney -solo
2007
Anselm Kiefer, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Bilbao -solo
2007
MONUMENTA 2007: Anselm Kiefer, Grand Palais, Paris -solo
2005–2007
Anselm Kiefer: Heaven and Earth, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX. Traveled to: the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal, Canada; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA. (through 2007)
2006
Richard Wagner: Artistic Visions From Auguste Renoir to Anselm Kiefer, Musee Rath, Geneva, Switzerland. -solo
2006
Für Paul Celan, Yvon Lambert Paris, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris -solo
2006
Anselm Kiefer: Velimir Chlebnikov, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT. -solo
2006
Recaptured Nature, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York
2006
Marinen in Konfrontation, Museum fur Moderne Kunst, Oostende
2006
The Spirit of White, Galerie Beyeler, Switzerland
2006
Anselm Kiefer: Heaven and Earth, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth; Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, Canada; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco -solo
2005
Anselm Kiefer: Für Paul Celan, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Salzburg, Austria.
2005
Anselm Kiefer: for Khlebnikov, White Cube Gallery, London. Traveled to: The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT -solo
2005
Flower Myth: From Van Gogh to Jeff Koons, Foundation Beyeler, Basel, Switzerland.
2005
Contemporary Voices: Works from The UBS Art Collection, Museum of Modern Art, New York.
2005
Anselm Kiefer: Heaven and Earth, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas -solo
2004
I sette palazzi Celesti, Hangar Bicocca, Fondazione Pirelli, Milan -solo
2004
Museo Archeologico Nazionale. Naples, Italy. -solo
2004
Kunst aus amerikanischer Sicht. Stadel, German Art. Frankfurt, Germany.
2003
Recaptured Nature. Marian Goodman Gallery. New York, NY.
2003
Marinen in Konfrontation. Museum fur Moderne Kunst. Oostende.
2003
Expressiv! Fondation Beyeler, Basel.
2003
Anselm Kiefer - Am Anfang. Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac. Salzburg. -solo
2002
La Vie Secrète des Plantes. Galerie Yvon Lambert. Paris, France. -solo
2002
Merkaba. Gagosian Gallery. New York, NY. -solo
2002
Warhol to Koons. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Edinburgh.
2002
Musikfestival Salzburg -solo
2001
Les Reines de France, Le Rectangle, Lyon -solo
2001
Lasst tausend Blumen blühen, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek -solo
2001
Kukje Gallery, Séoul -solo
2001
Anselm Kiefer - The Seven Heavenly Palaces 1973 - 2001. Fondation Beyeler. Basel. -solo
2001
Royal Academy. London, UK. -solo
2000
Chevirat Ha-Kelim. Chapelle de la Salpétrière. Paris, France. -solo
2000
National Gallery. London, UK. -solo
2000
Gagosian Gallery. New York, NY. -solo
2000
Stedelijk Museum veor Actuele Kunst, Gent -solo
2000
Die Frauen der Antike, Galleria Lia Rumma, Naples -solo
2000
Lasst tausend Blumen blühen, Anthony d’Offay Gallery, London -solo
1999
Stedelijk Museum veor Actuele Kunst, Gent, Belgium
1999
Stelle Cadenti, Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Bologna -solo
1999
Die Frauen der Antike, Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris -solo
1999
Die Frauen der Antike, Lia Rumma Gallery, Milan -solo
1998
Dein und mein Alter und das Alter der Welt, Gagosian Gallery, New York -solo
1998
The Museum of Modern Art, São Paulo -solo
1998
Galeria Camargo Vilaça, São Paulo -solo
1998
Woodcuts, Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Los Angeles -solo
1998
Works on Paper. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, NY. -solo
1997
Himmel-Erde. Museo Correr. Venice, Italy. -solo
1997
Biennale di Venezia, Venezia
1997
The Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao
1997
Anselm Kiefer, Museo Capodimonte, Naples -solo
1996
Anselm Kiefer, Centro Cultural Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City -solo
1996
Cette obscure clarté qui tombe des étoiles, Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris -solo
1996
I hold all Indias in my Hand, Anthony d’Offay Gallery, London -solo
1995
Anselm Kiefer, Kukje Gallery, Séoul -solo
1995
Deutsche Kunst Nach 1945”* Ludwig Forum
1995
Tag um Tag = 30 Jahre – Ehemalige der Klasse Peter Dreher“* Museum für Neue Kunst
1993
Work on paper, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York
1993
Anselm Kiefer: Melancholia, Sezon Museum of Art, Tokyo -solo
1993
Anselm Kiefer: Melancholia, Kyoto National Museum of Art -solo
1992
Anselm Kiefer, Fuji Television Gallery, Tokyo -solo
1992
The Women of The Revolution, Anthony d’Offay Gallery, London -solo
1992
Anselm Kiefer, Lia Rumma Gallery, Naples -solo
1991
Anselm Kiefer: Bücher 1969-1990, Kunstverein Munich -solo
1991
Nachtschattengewächse, Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris -solo
1991
National Gallery. Berlin, Germany -solo
1991
Kunsthaus. Zurich, Germany. -solo
1990
Energieen”Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
1990
Threshold”* Museet for Samtidskunst, Oslo
1990
Life Size”* The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
1990
Anselm Kiefer in “Räume und Völker“, Städel, Frankfurt
1990
Lilit, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York -solo
1990
Anselm Kiefer. Jason, Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin -solo
1990
Anselm Kiefer: Bücher 1969-1989, Kunsthalle Tübingen -solo
1990
Kaiserring Goslar 1990: Anselm Kiefer, Mönchehaus Museum, Goslar -solo