The Centre Pompidou is staging a completely new overview of Anselm Kiefer’s output. This retrospective, the first produced in France for thirty years, invites visitors to explore a dozen of thematic rooms retracing the German artist’s entire career from the late Sixties to the present day.
Laid out in an 2,000 m² area, the exhibition consists of nearly 150 works, with a selection of around 60 of his most masterly paintings, an installation, a collection of vitrines and works on paper, and his first books. Organised as a series of thematic rooms corresponding to specific spaces/times, the exhibition includes a remarkable selection of the most iconic paintings that have peppered Kiefer’s career.
Works like Resurrexit (1973), Quaternität (1973), Margarete (1981), Sulamith (1983) and Für Paul Celan: Aschenblumen (2006) were turning points in the many problematic issues he was grappling with: the question of Germany’s history, the reactivation of memory, the dialectic of destruction and creation, and the process of mourning for Jewish culture. Then in the Nineties, Kiefer’s visual world began to open out to other systems of thought such as the Kabbala and alchemy, which enriched and reoriented the artist’s fundamental questionings. For this project, the artist produced a series of some forty vitrines during 2015 on the themes of alchemy and the Kabbala, drawing on a reserve of «possibles» – an arsenal of objects awaiting redemption. Presented under glass, these environments bring into play the fragmented, saturnine world of a past industrial age, with old machines, bits of rusty metal, plants, photographs, filmstrips and lead objects. These are a far cry from cabinets of curiosities: the artist highlights the mystery of their presence and the emission of a mysterious light typical of alchemy.
With singular plastic and visual intensity, Kiefer’s work invites visitors to explore a range of poetic, literary and philosophical worlds, from the poetry of Paul Celan, Ingeborg Bachmann and Jean Genet to Heidegger’s philosophy, treatises on alchemy, science and esotericism, and the Hebraic thought of the Talmud and the Kabbalah.