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Anselm Kiefer In Palma de Majorca, Spain.

February 2, 2009

PALMA DE MAJORCA. – On Saturday, the Es Baluard Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Palma de Majorca, Spain concluded the inauguration ceremonies of Anselm Kiefer. Works from the Grothe Collection. The visually striking exhibition comprises thirteen very large format works by the German artist. 

The works—from the collection of Hans Grothe, a major collector of German contemporary art—exhibit Kiefer’s usual tonal range and use of materials. The enormous gray canvases encroach on the space of the viewer with haunting, decrepit objects that protrude from the surface: a battered airplane covered in dried sunflowers; a nondescript lead box; rusted, pathetic-looking ships. The worse-for-the wear objects eerily underscore the conspicuous absence of humans giving the works a dark sense of fatalism. 

The selection of twelve paintings and one sculpture, produced from 1981-2008, demonstrates the artist’s thematic breadth. Vindicating Kiefer’s reputation as one of the most occult contemporary artists, the works deal with themes from the mainstream to the esoteric including intellectual history (Ways of Worldly Wisdom, 1988-1990), Judeo-Christian mythology (Jakob’s Heavenly Blood, 2005), and Lurianic Kabbala (Shebirat Ha Kelim, 1990). The exhibition is an appropriate reminder that Kiefer’s artistic preoccupations are not limited to his country’s historic memory, a theme with which he is often closely identified. 

The scale of the works is the exhibition’s most visually stunning attribute. The smallest of the paintings, Secret of the Ferns (2005-2007) measures 280 x 190 cm (9’ 2” x 6’ 3”). The work looks positively diminutive in the expansive exhibition space which also holds the towering Jakob’s Heavenly Blood (2005) measuring 560 x 710 cm (18’ 4” x 23’ 4”). The impressive poliptic, The Secret Life of Plants (2001-2002), comprised of fourteen canvases, presents over seventy feet of plants superimposed on astronomical maps for the viewer to contemplate. 

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 Am Anfang (In the Beginning), 2008. Oil, emulsion and lead on canvas and photopaper 380 x 560 cm.

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