Anselm Kiefer

Born 1945.
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Anselm Kiefer Biography

German artist Anselm Kiefer uses a variety of media including painting, photography, sculpture and large-scale installation to explore the consequences of German history in the 20th century. Born in March 1945, two months before the end of the Second World War, Kiefer’s approach to mining the history of the war and the trauma of its aftermath often appear as scorched-earth constructions. “Ruins, for me, are the beginning. With the debris, you can construct new ideas. They are symbols of a beginning,” he has said.

Born in Donaueschingen, Germany, in 1945, Kiefer’s childhood was immersed in the physical and emotional ruins of postwar Germany. He studied under Joseph Beuys at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where he would later come under the influence of Neo-Expressionists Georg Baselitz and Jörg Immendorff. His early works present self-portrait photographs of Kiefer dressed in Nazi uniform and posed before iconic structures in Rome – a shocking but astute mockery of Hitler’s intended imperialist invasions. Many of his later paintings combine ancient Hebrew symbolism and German mythology. He has turned to sculpture and expanded his subjects, exploring Germany’s international role in post-war Europe and its identity in the midst of reconstruction.

Since his first solo exhibition in 1969 at the Gaerlie am Kaiserplatz in Karlsruhe, Kiefer has had major exhibitions and retrospectives around the world including at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Metropolitan Museum, New York; and the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2007 he became the first living artist to produce a site-specific installation at the Louvre since George Braques in 1953. He was the first visual artist to receive the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade; he has enjoyed impressive accolades including the 1997 International prize at the Venice Biennale, the 1999 Praemium Imperiale, and the 2017 J. Paul Getty Medal Award. His oeuvre is widely admired, and as such, his works sell for record prices; Athanor sold for $2.7 million at Sotheby’s in 2017.

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