Anselm Kiefer, beauty in art and learning to wait

In the 1980’s I worked on an Anselm Kiefer project with the Anthony d’Offay Gallery called Zweistromland, or The High Priestesss. Two massive steel bookcases furnished with books made from one of Kiefer’s favourite materials, lead. They made for an incredible installation. Why were they made?

‘I suspect that the human species – the unique species – is about to be extinguished, and only the library will endure: illuminated, solitary, infinite, perfectly motionless, equipped with precious volumes, useless, incorruptible, secret.’ Is perhaps a good answer. each book required a fork lift truck to move them — they carried the weight of history.

Anslem Kiefer is considered by some to be the most important artist of the middle generation. The reasons for this kind of acclaim are because Kiefer deals with the kinds of issue many feel serious, heavyweight artists ought to engage. The big issues – history, mythology, metaphysics, life and death, culture. And Kiefer patently deals with them in a visually seductive way.

Since that time I have been fascinated by Kiefers work and his thoughts on what is the purpose of an artist. As he says, because of my Calvinistic upbringing. I was trained to think that what you do has to have a purpose.

I have returned to Kiefer when I think about the ideas of commitment, risk, time (I think to wait is important, its a philosophy — we don’t wait enough anymore, says Kiefer in the film), practice, creative responses to destruction. I think about how materials matter – how their very nature is also part of a narrative arc that gives greater potency to an idea. Everything Kiefer does is considered.

What what Kiefer has created is extensive, vast challenging.

Anselm Kiefer: Remembering the Future from Jack Cocker on Vimeo.

Why are these things important? When you tap into the root, the true source of human creativity, what results is extraordinary human expression. Kiefers engine room is his creativity, his response to a world that he was born into. one that contained death and destruction and now one that is full of life.

This is what artists do — they create new connections — Anselm Kiefer.

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