Anselm Kiefer

Tikum, Germany, 2006

Oil, emulsion, acrylic, shellac terracotta, photo on plywood 100/74 cm

Courtesy of Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris / Salzburg

Anselm Kiefer’s works deal with the sublime, the mythical and the unattainable. Through his works, he tries to make sense of human history. In so doing, he relies on various cultures, mythologies and religions. Kiefer seems to study the past in order to better understand the future. He studies the effects (of either triumph or defeat) war has, and will have, on our lives today and in the future. His works are imbued with a hope for closure and new beginnings, as well as a fear that this hope may never materialize. To mark the 20th anniversary of Opéra Bastille, the Paris municipality commissioned a work from Anselm Kiefer. After accepting the commission, he installed 12 crumbling tall concrete structures at the Bastille site. The work also included a sound track, alongside actors who recited biblical verses. Contrary to its title, “Am Anfang (In the Beginning),” the work evoked an apocalyptic vision of the end of the world rather than its creation/beginning (according to Kiefer, “the beginning is also the end”). The performance opened with a map showing the early Near East map, the birthplace of the three major monotheistic religions, or the cradle of civilization. Although the structures represent the 12 tribes of Israel, the spectators find themselves not only in that ancient region, but also amongst the ravages of war.