Landscape without horizon in which our eyes wander for a few seconds, overwhelmed by the immensity of this stellar composition, before fixating on a mysterious vessel that resembles a cloud, Herr und Leander reflects Anselm Kiefer’s fascination for telluric forces. From the beginning of his career, Kiefer has always questioned the place of men in the universe through works which epic dimension is unique in contemporary creation. Famous for his resort to media rarely used in painting, that are both meaningful and revelator of his personal quest, Kiefer here employs one of his favorite materials, lead, to depict a timeless scene, or rather a scene of another time, that of stars shining millions of light years away in the milky way.
Appearing in Anselm Kiefer’s work in the 70s, lead came to hold a major place in his paintings –if they can still be called so- starting in 1985, the year when he acquired the roof of the Cologne cathedral then undergoing renovation. Crucial in the composition of Herr und Leander, lead gives a memorial depth to the piece, which at the same time acquires the ruin-type of beauty praised by romantics since the 19th century.
Keifer also uses lead as an alchemist, changing this metal into an enigmatic and versatile gold, able of both darkness and light and holding protective and malicious powers. Shiny like silver, it forms a patina in contact with the carbon of the air, and takes up the earthly and Saturnine hues which gives Herr und Leander its cold Nordic painting splendor.
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