One of my favourite artists, a man who is very controversial but who dives deep into the soul of his country. Quote from A Beginners Guide
Although informed by history, Kiefer is more an artist of memory – private and public, personal and political. His paintings are packed with references to myth and poetry. Art critic Robert Hughes described Kiefer’s work as centring on two questions: “What can I remember?” and “What should I remember?” Kathleen Soriano, who has curated the RA’s exhibition, says Kiefer’s work is “as much about the present as it is about the past”. This is exemplified in paintings such as Interior (1981), which depicts a room in the New Reich Chancellery, designed by Hitler’s favourite architect, Albert Speer. The building had been destroyed immediately after the war, but Kiefer chooses to depict the moment of ruination itself. The result, writes Martin Gayford in RA Magazine, is a painting of “spectral, sinister magnificence”.
Incorporating materials such as concrete, straw, ash and shellac, Kiefer’s works often decay with age, and the artist embraces this loss of control. Embodying this mutability is lead, which alchemists once believed could be turned into gold. Books – often with wings – have been a repeated motif since the late 1960s and represent, for Kiefer, important repositories of learning, religion, culture. Many of these book sculptures are made of lead, which Kiefer first used to mend his plumbing in the 1970s. He has subsequently described it as “the only material heavy enough to carry the weight of human history”.