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BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art Opens Anselm Kiefer Exhibition

BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art has opened a major exhibition of the work of Anselm Kiefer, one of the foremost figures of European post-war painting. On view through 16 January 2011.

The exhibition includes a diverse body of work, offering a selection that spans four decades and ranges from early paintings to monumental installations. Presented over two floors of BALTIC’s galleries, the exhibition is Kiefer’s largest in the UK for many years and has been made possible by ARTIST ROOMS On Tour with the Art Fund.

Following the success of 2009, 21 museums and galleries across the UK in 2010 will be showing 25 ARTIST ROOMS exhibitions and displays from the collection created by the curator and collector, Anthony d’Offay, and acquired by the nation in February 2008. ARTIST ROOMS On Tour with the Art Fund has been devised to enable this collection held by Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland, to reach and inspire new audiences across the country, particularly young people.
Anselm Kiefer at BALTIC includes painting, sculpture and installation, some of which has been rarely seen before. The starting point for Kiefer’s work is his fascination with myth, history, theology, philosophy and literature. For many years his painting was a vehicle to come to terms with his country’s past, and subsequently became ever concerned with religious traditions and the symbolism of different cultures. Kiefer’s weighty subject matters are reflected in the monumental scale of many of his works, while his keen exploration and visceral layering of materials such as lead, ash, rope and human hair bring an emotional potency.

Among the paintings to be included in the exhibition are three works from the artist’s early Parsifal series (1973), drawn from Richard Wagner’s last opera and its 13th century source, a romance by Wolfram von Eschenbach based upon the legend of the Holy Grail. With Palette 1981, Kiefer revealed the problematic legacy inherited by artists in post-war Germany: the artist’s palette hangs from a single burning thread evoking shame, loss and the apparent impossibility of artistic creation. The expansive Man under a Pyramid 1996, which measures more than five meters long, continues the artist’s interest in meditation and the linking of body and mind.

Also included is Palmsonntag 2006 which comprises a vast sequence of 36 paintings arranged around a full-size palm tree. While avoiding explicit religious statement, the work draws upon the Christian narrative of Palm Sunday to explore death and resurrection, decay, re-creation and rejuvenation; human themes that are central to Kiefer’s practice and that will be identified throughout this presentation.

Anselm Kiefer was born 1945 in Donauschingen, Germany, at the close of World War II. He studied art formally under Joseph Beuys at the Düsseldorf Academy in the early 1970s where history and myth became central themes in his work.

In 1971 Kiefer produced his first large-scale landscape paintings and from 1973 he began to experiment with wooden interiors on a monumental scale. His preoccupation with recent German history is seen throughout his work and his use of recurring motifs, such as an artist’s palette symbolises his emotional journey relating to this period. Kiefer has made increasing use of materials such as sand, straw, wood, dirt and photographs, as well as sewn materials and lead model soldiers. By adding found materials to the painted surface Kiefer invented a compelling third space between painting and sculpture. Recent work has broadened his range yet further: in 2006 he showed a series of paintings based around the little-known work of the modernist Russian poet Velimir Chlebnikov (1885-1922).

Kiefer has had extensive exhibitions internationally including the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1987), Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (1991), The Metropolitan Museum, New York (1998), Royal Academy, London (2001), Fort Worth Museum of Art, Fort Worth (2005) and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2006).

Anselm Kiefer currently lives and works in Provence, France.

Image: Anselm Kiefer, Urd Werdande Skuld (The Norns) ,1983. Oil, shellac, emulsion and fibre on canvas, 4205 x 2805 x 60 mm. © Tate, London 2010.

BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art
Gateshead Quays
South Shore Road
Tel: +44 (0) 191 478 1810
Fax: +44 (0) 191 478 1922
Email: [email protected]

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