Friday, November 28, 2008

Anselm Kiefer (Kate's Pick)

I have been looking at Anselm Kiefer's work lately specifically as it relates to book arts and sculpture, though his career involves a variety of themes and media.  A German artist who studied under Beuys, Kiefer is well known for his paintings and themes regarding German culture after the Holocaust. 

As Kiefer moved into the domain of sculpture, he began to incorporate the ideaof the book.  In his own words: “The book—the idea of a book or the image of a book—is a symbol of learning, of transmitting knowledge. I make my own books to find my own way through the old stories.”  I am particularly interested in his meditation on the book as a symbol and its vast cultural significance. Many of his book sculptures communicate that they have history and "weight" - both literally and figuratively, as the sculptures are made of lead.  Book with Wings is an example of one of these works, and shows that Kiefer imbues these sculptures with spiritual qualities as well.  Where Rachel Whiteread's plaster casts asserted the absence and namelessness of books, Kiefer strongly asserts their presence and physicality.  The two artists show very different ways of approaching the same thematic object.

Though somewhat unrelated, in my searches for Kiefer images I came across a site referencing an Italian exhibit of book arts that made some interesting statements: “What happens when the book object, the book idea, the book 
thought is transformed by the artist and exhibited in an art gallery (where the book as such is not the object to be shown)?
The book changes its nature:
from a subject to be consulted to an object to be contemplated.”

For other images and information on Kiefer, see his section of the Gagosian Gallery site here.  There is also an extensive review (plus images) of some of his more recent paintings and sculptures here, outside the realm of book arts.

1 comment:

Sophie said...

This piece you show here is so interesting! Not only is it made of lead, but it has wings. If this is a piece about the holocaust then I totally get it. The book may be heavy of memory or heavy of names of people that have died, and it still wants to fly away, leave this place it was written into, go to heaven...
I really like it.