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Museum Frieder Burda Presents Anselm Kiefer Exhibition

Anselm Kiefer is known to be one of the most important contemporary artists nationwide as well as worldwide. From 7, October 2011 to 15, January 2012, selected works by Kiefer from the Grothe collection can be seen at the Museum Frieder Burda. The curator Walter Smerling has selected 33 large format pictures from 30 years, focussing on the decade 2000. For the first time, the work ”Essence“ from the current series of alpine landscapes will be publicly exhibited. From the collection Frieder Burda, the work „Böhmen liegt am Meer“ from 1995 is shown.

The focus of the exhibition is on the monumental picture „Der fruchtbare Halbmond“ The fertile half moon (460 x 760 cm), a work from the year 2009. It refers to the consolidation of the occident and orient and will be exhibited in Germany for the first time. Kiefer’s theme is the tower of Babel and the cradle of our culture, situated in the fertile Mesopotamia. The tower divided religions and languages, but Kiefer believes in the originally uniting aspects: the foundations are no longer simply destroyed, but also under construction. The former power of the fertile land can be regenerated, the solidarity of the different cultures becomes possible.

Anselm Kiefer Der fruchtbare Halbmond 2009 oil and emulsion on canvas 460 x 760 cm © Anselm Kiefer, 2011 Courtesy Stiftung für Kunst und Kultur e.V.

When selling his substantial collection, Hans Grothe did not sell his works by Anselm Kiefer. He acquired his first pictures by Kiefer out of mere fascination and because he was emotionally touched; since at first, the rational contents did not really become accessible to him. The collection includes works from three decades that fascinate due to their unique materials, the compelling density of their messages and the intensity of their aura, becoming especially visible when contrasting the different works.

In the works selected for the exhibition, the German past is not so much at the center of attention as it is characteristic for several other works. The curator Walter Smerling explains: “It is rather the christian-jewish or mythological themes that dominate. And the often described emotionalism of Kiefer’s works seems to be strangely altered, reduced or even neutralized. The works are impressive, without being overwhelming, and they invite you to analyze and reflect on them“.

Right from the beginning, Kiefer‘s paintings were located between abstraction and figuration. Symbolic combinations are created from lead, concrete, dried plants, glass, barbed wire and other heterogeneous materials. Due to numerous pastose, not too colorful layers, the surface of the picture receives a relief structure, leading to a plasticity of the pictures nearly resembling a sculpture.

Anselm Kiefer was born in Donaueschingen/Baden-Württemberg in 1945. He attended school in Rastatt, where today you can see a monumental installation by him, made from carved wood. He studied arts at the art academies in Freiburg, Karlsruhe and Düsseldorf. From 1993 to 2006, he lived and worked in Barjac, in the Département Gard in Southern France. Since 2007, Anselm Kiefer has lived in Paris, where in 2010 he was called to the Collège de France as a professor. In 1999 in Tokio, he was awarded the prestigious Praemium Imperiale Prize. In 2008, he was awarded the Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels.

The exhibition was developed in close cooperation between the Museum Frieder Burda and the Foundation for Art and Culture in Bonn. A catalog is available from the editorial Wienand Verlag.

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