Anselm Kiefer at the Royal Academy of Arts

Last Saturday I finally had time to visit the Anselm Kiefer exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts. Anselm Kiefer is a German artist and his artwork is nothing but spectacular. If you live in London or live close and planned a day in the city, you should really go and visit it. The exhibition runs until the 14th of December and started on the 27th of September.

Anselm Kiefer | Interior (Innenraum) |1981 | Oil, acrylic, and paper on canvas, 287.5 x 311 cm |
Collection Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam | Photo Collection Stedelijk Museum / copyright Anselm Kiefer 

Anselm Kiefer is considered to be one of the most important artists of his generation. The exhibition spans over forty years from Kiefer’s early career to the present time, bringing together artwork from international private and public collections. I like that the exhibition is arranged chronologically, presenting the epic scale of his artwork and the breadth of media he has used throughout the career, including painting, sculpture, photography and installation. Anselm Kiefer has also created a number of works specifically for the Royal Academy, showing his continued interest in seeking new challenges and producing ever more ambitious artwork.

Anselm Kiefer | The Orders of the Night (Die Orden der Nacht), 1996 | Emulsion, acrylic and shellac on canvas, 356 x 463 cm 
Seattle Art Museum. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Richard C. Hedreen | Photo copyright Seattle Art Museum / copyright Anselm Kiefer 
I like that Kiefer’s work is fascinated with history itself. From mythology, to the Old and New testaments, Kabbalah, alchemy, philosophy and the poetry of Paul Celan and Ingeborg Bachmann, it also wrestles with the darkness of German History and considers the complex relation between art and spirituality. Kiefer used materials such as clay, ash, earth, lead, fabric and dried flowers amongst others to add further symbolism and depth to his work. As the exhibition is arranged chronologically, you can clearly see the development and changes in Kiefer’s art.

Anselm Kiefer | Heroic Symbol V (Heroisches Sinnbild V), 1970 | Oil on canvas, 150 x 260.5 cm 
Collection Wuerth | Photo Collection Wuerth / copyright Anselm Kiefer

Anselm Kiefer was born in 1945 in Donaueschingen in Germany. After the studied law, he began his art education first in Karlsruhe and later in Düsseldorf. He represented Germany at the 39th Venice Biennale in 1980. His work has been collected by and shown at major museums throughout the world including MoMA, New York; The Art Institute of Chicago; Philadelphia Museum of Art (1987); Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (1991); The Metropolitan Museum, New York (1998); Fort Worth Museum of Art (2005); the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2006); Louisiana Museum of Art, Denmark (2010); Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao; Tel Aviv Museum of Art; the Grand Palais, Paris; The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (2011) and Mass MoCA, Massachusetts (2013). In 2007 Kiefer became the first living artist to be commissioned to install a permanent work in the Louvre, Paris since Georges Braque some 50 years earlier. In this same year he created the first Monumenta installation for the Grand Palais, Paris. Kiefer has lived and worked in France since 1993. He was elected an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1996 and was awarded the Praemium Imperiale in 1999. In 2005 he was presented with the Federal Cross of Merit, First Class, and the Austrian Decoration for Science and Art; in 2008 the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade; in 2011 a Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture. 2010 saw his appointment at the Chair of Artistic Creation at the renowned Collège de France, Paris where he delivered nine lectures entitled Art will survive its ruins (Die Kunst geht knapp nicht unter).

Anselm Kiefer | Black Flakes (Schwarze Flocken), 2006 | Oil, emulsion, acrylic, charcoal, lead books, branches and plaster on canvas 
330 x 570 cm | Private collection, c/o Museum Kueppersmuehle fuer Moderne Kunst | Photo Privatbesitz Famille Grothe / copyright Anselm Kiefer

The exhibition has been organised by the Royal Academy of Arts and has been curated by Kathleen Soriano, Director of Exhibitions, Royal Academy of Arts, in close collaboration with Anselm Kiefer. It runs until Saturday, the 14th of December this year and is open everyday from 10am to 6pm with the last admission at 5:30pm. On Fridays the exhibition is open until 10pm and the last admission is at 9:30pm. Tickets cost £14; children under the age of sixteen as well as friends of the Royal Academy have free entry to the exhibition. The tickets for Anselm Kiefer are available daily at the RA or visit www.royalacademy.org.uk.

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