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Anselm Kiefer - Royal Academy of Arts

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Exhibition preview

FROM September 27 to December 14, 2014, the Royal Academy of Arts will be presenting the first major retrospective of Anselm Kiefer’s work to be held in the UK.

Considered to be one of the most important artists of his generation, the exhibition will span over forty years from Kiefer’s early career to the present time, bringing together artwork from international private and public collections.

The exhibition will be arranged chronologically, presenting the epic scale of his artwork and the breadth of media he has used throughout his career, including painting, sculpture, photography and installation.

Kiefer has also created a number of works conceived specifically for the Royal Academy’s Main Galleries, showcasing his continued interest in seeking new challenges and producing ever more ambitious artwork.

Kiefer’s fascination with history itself and with the work of past masters permeates his subject matter. From the cultural myths of folklore, to the Old and New testaments, Kabbalah, alchemy, philosophy and the poetry of Paul Celan and Ingeborg Bachmann, Kiefer’s work wrestles with the darkness of German history and considers the complex relationship between art and spirituality.

His technical use of materials such as clay, ash, earth, lead, fabric and dried flowers amongst others, adds further symbolism and depth to his work.

Highlights of the exhibition include photographs and paintings from the controversial Occupations and Heroic Symbols (Heroische Sinnbilder) series of the late 1960s and early 1970s. These images record Kiefer’s re-enactment of the Nazi salute in locations across Europe, made in the belief that one must confront rather than supress the experience of history.

A series of paintings from Kiefer’s Attic series will also be exhibited, including Father, Son and the Holy Ghost (Vater, Sohn, Heiliger Geist), 1973 and Notung, 1973 depicting powerful renderings of wooden interior spaces based on the studio space that Kiefer was occupying in Walldurn-Hornbach in soth-west Germany, which he has referred to as “a place to teach myself history.”

The exhibition will also feature his monumental architectural paintings, such as To the Unknown Painter (Dem unbekannten Maler), 1983 that reflect on the neo-classical buildings of Albert Speer, Hitler’s atchitect, and the role of the artist in considering collective memory.

The exhibition will consider the key themes and the diverse, personal iconography that Kiefer has created in his work over the years and will look at the influence of place on his oeuvre. As he said in a recent interview, “Art is an attempt to get to the very centre of truth. It never can, but it can get quite close.”

Other paintings on display include Palette on a Rope (Palette am Seil), 1971 that uses the motif of the artist’s palette to represent Kiefer’s engagement with the facets of history, as well as a series of early watercolours including From Oscar Wilde (Von Oskar Wilde), 1974 and Winter Landscape (Winterlandschaft), 1970.

Anselm Kiefer will also present his celebrated lead books, including the paintings For Paul Celan, Ash Flowers (Fur Paul Celan, Aschenblume), 2006 and Black Flakes (Schwarze Flocken), 2006. Kiefer’s new works for the exhibition will incorporate a number of large-scale paintings and sculptures, including a major installation for the Royal Academy’s courtyard.

Kathleen Soriano, Director of Exhibitions says:

“While particular segments of Kiefer’s oeuvre have been shown at galleries in this country at intervals over recent decades, never before has a comprehensive overview taken place in spaces befitting the monumental character of many of his pieces.

“This is an unprecedented opportunity to consider and re-evaluate the trajectory of Kiefer’s practice and the importance of his innovations and contributions to the history of art, whilst celebrating one of our own Honorary Royal Academicians.”

The exhibition, organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, has been curated by Kathleen Soriano, Director of Exhibitions, Royal Academy of Arts, in close collaboration with Anselm Kiefer.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with contributions from Richard Davey, Simon Schama, Kathleen Soriano and Christian Weikop.

Anselm Kiefer Gallery

Tickets: £14 full price; concessions available; children under 12 and Friends of the RA go free.

Times: Daily from 10am to 6pm (last admission 5.30pm); Fridays until 10pm (last admission 9.30pm).

Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BD

Tel: 020 7300 8000

Website: www.royalacademy.org.uk/

Also at the Royal Academy of Arts: Radical Geometry: Modern Art of South America from the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection (until September 28, 2014) and Dennis Hopper: The Lost Album (until October 19, 2014).