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Definition: Kiefer, Anselm from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

German neo-expressionist painter and sculptor. His works include monumental landscapes on varied surfaces, often with the paint built up into heavily textured impasto (layers of pigment) with other substances. Much of his neo-expressionist work deals with German history, including the controversial Occupations (1969), a series of photographic self-portraits that show him adopting the ‘Sieg heil’ Nazi salute in different locations.

Kiefer works in a variety of media including lead, ash, straw, and sand. Much of his work is preoccupied with Germany's Nazi past, such as in Operation Winter Storm (1975) and Nuremburg (1982), but he is also influenced by the cosmos – as in Light Compulsion (1999) – architecture, poetry, mythology, and the plant world, as in Every Plant Has Its Related Star in the Sky (2001).

Kiefer was born in Donaueschingen, Baden-Württemberg. He studied under Peter Dreher at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universitát in Freiburg and met Joseph Beuys at the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf.


Summary Article: Kiefer, Anselm
from The Columbia Encyclopedia

(kē'fər), 1945–, German painter, one of the major figures of neoexpressionism, b. Donaueschingen. He studied (1970) with Joseph Beuys, who heavily influenced his work. His large paintings of the 1970s and early 1980s, with their strongly symbolic themes of a savage and contemptible Nazi past (e.g., Shulamite, 1983) and a sere German landscape (e.g., The Meistersinger, 1982), are characterized by broad drawing, scorched and bloody colors, use of unusual materials (straw, metal, pottery shards, glass, sand, etc.), and often the addition of photographs and three-dimensional elements. Later paintings treat mythological, classical, and biblical subject matter as well as Jewish mysticism. Kiefer is also known for his large environmental installations, often with historical themes; for three-dimensional works, often made of lead; and for photographs. Since 1993 he has lived in France. In 2007 he inaugurated Monumenta, an annual large one-artist show held at the Grand Palais in Paris; his recent recent paintings and monumental multimedia constructions were featured.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2017

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