05.02.2010 - 13.04.2010
Art Stations gallery
04.02.2010 7:00 p.m.
curatorial guided tour:
06.02.2010 5:00 p.m.
Since the beginning of the 70s Anselm Kiefer has been drawing inspiration not only from the history of his birthplace – Germany, but also from the rich tradition of European mythology, which has turned out to be an endless source of creative inspiration for the artist. Along with an interest in academic publications and a passion for astronomy, he has developed a fascination for shamanism.
Since the 90s he has been studying Kabala, treating it as a rich source of symbols and myths on the beginning of the world, which offer an immense interpretative potential. In Kiefer's work elements of religious and mythological iconography meet contemporary history. Next to Günter Grass, Anselm Kiefer is said to be a voice of contemporary German consciousness.
The painting presented at the exhibition is part of a highly regarded series inspired by the work of Paul Celan (1920-1970), a Romanian poet of Jewish origin.
Stretching to the distant horizon, a landscape of an empty field covered with mud and snow instantly leads the viewer beyond the visual field. The layers of paint, one applied over another, evoke a sensation of the earth's structure. What makes, however the biggest impression is the three –dimensional appearance of the painting due to the structure of its foreground. This is where the artist attached life-size chairs, stack of tree branches and a stack of human hair.
Anselm Kiefer sees “Das Haar” as a medium which can transform the viewer of this work into a witness of war – the war that echoes all around in the sprawling empty landscape and the dark quiet sky. The three chairs attached to the face of the painting: one with tree branches, one with a pile of hair, and in between the two – one that is empty, symbolic, as if waiting for the viewer. Inviting us to take a seat, the empty chair offers a position in the center of the picture and at the same time in the center of history. Sitting with his back to the visual field, one becomes integrated into it. The viewer therefore becomes an integral part of the landscape. His involvement goes beyond passive watching; he is an active witness who must cope with the perception of the Second World War and the inevitable issue of responsibility. In this way “Das Haar” in innovative way defines the relations between the artist and the observer, between the viewer and the past.
Kiefer's work carries many meanings, including reference to the heavy burden of history, for which it has become one of the most widely recognized works of the artists born in 1945 Germany – a country that was deep in political, economic and moral crisis. The artist belongs to the generation that entered the post-war context experiencing both amnesia and the sense of guilt. Thus, we can interpret the empty chair in his work not only as a sign of invitation but also as a serious challenge requiring moral maturity and psychological courage from all those who are about to face it. It calls us to enter this landscape of thoughts, gloomy as it is painted, and invites us to reflect on the faith of those who, though innocent, had to die a tragic death. Loneliness, sadness and historical responsibility are reflected not only in the physical form of this difficult work – they also claim the symbolic terrain of thought, a land which has its place somewhere in a timeless space created by the artist.
Anselm Kiefer's work “Das Haar”, 2006, a painting from Grazyna Kulczyk Collection, is presented for the first time to a wider audience in Poznan.
While engaging in reflection on the work and its subject, our thoughts will be with the victims of Auschwitz-Birkenau Death Camp in the 65th anniversary of its liberation.
Anselm Kiefer (born in Donaueschingen, 1945) painter, sculptor, author of installations, one of the most representative artists of his generation. In 1966 he left law studies at the University of Freiburg to study at art academies in Karlsruhe and Düsseldorf, where in the 70s he studied in the studio of Joseph Beuys’. He started his artistic career as a photographer and performer. Soon, however, he discovered his own unique style on the borderline of two media – painting and sculpture, both marking their presence in his huge paintings-objects. His work explores the subjects of the German identity, collective memory, the trauma of the Holocaust, coping with history and war experiences, as well as the cyclical rebirth of life.
The artist lives and works in Barjac, Provence, where he set up his studio in 1992. His work has been presented in the world's most famous museums and galleries, e.g. MoMA, New York (1987), Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (1991), The Metropolitan Museum, New York (1998), Royal Academy, London (2007) and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2006).
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