Lot 163
  • 163

ANSELM KIEFER | Des Meeres und der Liebe Wellen

200,000 - 300,000 GBP
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  • Anselm Kiefer
  • Des Meeres und der Liebe Wellen
  • mixed media and gyneaecological instrument on photograph, in artist's frame
  • overall: 107 by 327 cm. 42 1/8 by 128 3/4 in.
  • Executed in 2011.


White Cube, London
Acquired from the above by the present owner


London, White Cube, Anselm Kiefer: Des Meeres und der Liebe Wellen, March - April 2011, p. 14, illustrated in colour


Germano Celant, Anselm Kiefer: Salt of the Earth, Milan 2011, p. 276, no. 203, illustrated in colour


Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate, although the overall tonality is lighter in the original. Condition: This work is in very good condition. Close inspection reveal a few shallow and superficial rub marks and scratches in isolated places to the frame. All other surface irregularities, scuffs, scratches and oxidation are in keeping with the artist's working process and choice of medium.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

"Kiefer’s art is the unique expression of a highly personal situation prompted by his interests and consciousness and yielding images in which historic awareness, metaphysical longings and the notion of human subordinacy to Existence constitute the material of the predominating question: how to render this human experience into Image" (Wim Beeren, 'Anselm Kiefer: Recuperation of History', in: Exh. Cat., Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Anselm Kiefer, 1987, p. 8). Taking its name from a recurrent refrain found in a play of nineteenth-century writer Franz Grillparzer, Des Meeres und der Liebe Wellen, is one of the catalyst photographs from Anselm Kiefer’s panoramic series of seascapes that was conceived by the artist for an exhibition of the same name. Kiefer's extensive body of work uniquely gathers, synthesises and re-imagines texts and art that are heavily informed by the weight of history. In the present, evocative work, the artist involves the story of Hero, a priestess, and Leander, her lover, who braved the sea to reach Hero but eventually drowned. Hero, after learning of her lover’s death, died of a broken heart. The composition of Kiefer’s photograph uniquely embodies his informed aesthetic dialect where paper, acid, ash, steel and shellac are fused to create a symbolic blend of mythology, history and language. He uses photography not only as a means for composing imagery, index memory but also to capture the decay processes of time. The epic photograph appears in motion through the application of acid to its structure which becomes dynamic when confronted to air. To Kiefer, the nature of a work of art is in constant process rather than ever finished, it is to a similar extent that the picture evokes the inability to picture and represent the infinity and essence of the sea: ‘’A photograph takes only the moment among thousands of others’’ (Anselm Kiefer in conversation with Tim Arlow: White Cube/ 2018, online).  

From the depths of his rich textural impasto and encrusted surface, the photograph depicts a churning sea and perturbed landscape. Visually complex, with delicate hues of blue and shadowy passages of black and brown, the monumental painting echoes the temporary nature of our lives. Superimposed on the surface of the photograph is a gynaecological instrument, disrupting the reading of the work to evoke the genesis of life and fertility through a sterile instrument. Across his oeuvre, Kiefer’s iconography frequently returns to central themes revolving around the cycle of life, destruction, and nature. This photograph is a paramount example of Anselm Kiefer’s work, imbued with mysticism where memory and classical literature become symbolic points of entry to our imagination and understanding of the artist’s message.