Thursday, December 8, 2011

Artist Post: Anselm Kiefer

Nuremberg, 1983

     The main thing that has drawn me to the work of Anselm Kiefer has been his treatment of the surface of his paintings. Specifically, it is just how much he works up the surface - the use of frenzied and heavy brushstrokes and the inclusion of different materials - that makes his work so appealing to me. I think this  use of found materials is successful because it directly connects you, as the viewer, to the subject that is being depicted in the work. For example, in his painting, Nuremberg, Kiefer has mixed in real straw into the applied paint, which connects you to the farm land that he is depicting. Personally, I think this inclusion of materials to be a really unique idea and it really adds another "dimension" to the work - almost as if the painting is coming right at you; the viewer feels more like they are "in" the piece - and it is something that I think would like to try at some point in my own future work.
     However, I think that I am not only interested in how Kiefer's pieces look, but also in the thoughts that are the creative force behind them. Specifically, I am really amazed by his determination to face his German heritage/ facing the legacy of the Nazi regime. This legacy makes its way into his paintings as they are reflections of the scorched and destroyed earth left in the wake of World War II. So the painting, Nuremberg refers to the site of Nazi war crime trials - which marks it as a site of german redemption, while also marking the location as the turning pages of history. 
     I guess you could say that I am just impressed by how well Kiefer respects and interprets his subjects on all sides. I also think that it is interesting that he searches, "...For parallels in world mythology - Nordic, Greek, Egyptian, Early Christian, Jewish - is a romantic trait" (Fineberg 413). He not only is working to face his own cultural heritage and its legacy, but he is also looking to make parallels to other cultures. By doing this, Kiefer is looking to establish cross-culture connections. I think this fact makes his work even more appealing, even if you do not understand his predominately German references, there can still be connections for the viewer to make and feel.