Anselm Kiefer: A Look at the Life and Works of a Renowned Artist

Anselm Kiefer is a German painter, sculptor, and installation artist known for his provocative and deeply intellectual works. His art has been featured in major exhibitions around the world, and his paintings and sculptures are considered some of the most significant creations of the 20th century. In this blog post, we’ll explore the life and works of this influential artist, including his famous “Margarethe” painting, his age and current status, and a selection of notable pieces.

Margarethe Painting by Anselm Kiefer

One of Anselm Kiefer’s most famous works is the 1981 painting “Margarethe”. This 1.2 x 1.5-meter oil painting on canvas features a bleak landscape with a large sunflower and a set of antlers in the foreground. The painting’s title is a reference to Margarethe, an alias for the Norse goddess of death, Hel. The piece was inspired by photographs of Margarethe von Trotta, a German filmmaker who was also a muse for modernist director Jean-Luc Godard.

“Margarethe” is part of a series of works by Kiefer that explore the relationship between Germany’s cultural heritage and the atrocities committed during World War II. The sunflower in the painting is a nod to Van Gogh, while the antlers allude to the Nazi obsession with, and ritualistic use of, pagan symbols. Through these elements, Kiefer draws attention to the fraught legacy of Germany’s artistic, cultural, and political history.

Is Anselm Kiefer Still Alive?

Yes, Anselm Kiefer is still alive. Born on March 8, 1945, he is currently 76 years old and continues to create art. He lives and works in France, where he has a massive studio complex in Barjac.

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How Old is Anselm Kiefer?

Anselm Kiefer was born in 1945, which means he is currently 76 years old. He has experienced and lived through some of the most tumultuous and significant periods in Germany’s recent history, including the Second World War, the division of the country, and the reunification of East and West Germany.

What Did Anselm Kiefer Create?

Anselm Kiefer is best known for his mixed-media works that combine painting, sculpture, and installation art. His work focuses on the struggle between past and present, memory and forgetting, and individual and collective identity. He often incorporates found materials, such as lead, straw, and ash, into his pieces, which create a sense of decay and ruin.

Some of Kiefer’s most significant works include:

“Breaking of the Vessels” (1990)

This gigantic installation, commissioned by the Louvre, features a massive concrete tower with ten open books, referencing the ten Sephiroth of the Jewish Kabbalah. The tower is surrounded by large lead tablets with religious inscriptions in multiple languages. The piece is a meditation on the role of religion in culture and the inevitable decline of civilization.

“Your golden hair, Margarete” (1981)

This mixed-media painting is another piece in Kiefer’s Margarethe series. It features a stark landscape with a tower made of flakes of gold and a nude woman lying on the ground. The work is a reference to Paul Celan’s renowned poem “Death Fugue,” which explores the Jewish experience during the Holocaust.

“The Renowned Orders of the Night” (1997)

This installation features an enormous airplane suspended from the ceiling, its wings joined together to create a cross. The cockpit is made of lead and features a number “6”, referencing the death camp uniform number worn by Jewish prisoners. The plane refers to the role of technology and science in the atrocities committed in WWII, as well as the failure of those same disciplines to prevent the Holocaust.

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Anselm Kiefer’s work is challenging, haunting, and deeply thought-provoking. He has been a significant and influential figure in the art world since the 1970s and continues to push artistic boundaries to this day. From his exploration of German cultural heritage to his meditations on religion, war, and individual identity, Kiefer’s work resonates with a powerful and often unsettling intensity that has made him one of the most important artists of his generation.