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Broken Flowers and Grass: Nature and Landscape in the Drawings of Anselm Kiefer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

October 8, 2009

Broken Flowers and Grass: Nature and Landscape in the Drawings of Anselm Kiefer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Drew Lowenstein. (from last March 24 to August 2, 2009)

In 2007 Anselm Kiefer stated “Americans think there is good and bad.  That’s not true.  The truth is wandering around.”  Fair enough, but some of Kiefer’s themes have sharp moral divisions.  The Metropolitan Museum has mounted a mini retrospective of about 30 small pieces selected from its Kiefer holdings, one as recent as 2004.   The early watercolors from 1969 – 85 represent the bulk of the show.   Although technical distinction is rarely evident in his watercolors, Kiefer’s keen and decisive knack of finding and assembling his signature themes and compositions is astonishingly present from the start.  It is content rather than painting ability that speaks loudest here.

Anselm Kiefer Everyone Stands Under His Own Dome of Heaven (Jeder Mensch steht unter seiner Himmelskugel) 1970. Watercolor, gouache, and graphite pencil on joined paper, 15-3/4 x 18-7/8 inches. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Denise and Andrew Saul Fund, 1995 © Anselm Kiefer. Photo credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

In Everyone Stands Under His Own Dome Of Heaven (1970), a diminished, isolated figure, enveloped in a transparent dome, assumes the Nazi salute within a deeply receding landscape.  From text we understand that Kiefer mocks the salute, but context is relative and meaning is subject to change.  That the salute is summoned in several pieces is plain to see. Regarding the image, Kiefer has equivocally stated “every man has his own dome, his own perceptions, his own thoughts.  There is no one God for all.”   Despite the moral relativism, Kiefer is certain that he is a soldier artist recovering historic facts from the ground of recent memory.  And as an agent of Neo Expressionism, Kiefer assumes that although there are pauses, everything is in play and that everything old rises new again with a twist of the eternally recurring historical spiral.

Read more at: artcritical.com  Anselm Kiefer Drawings at the Metropolitan Museum

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