Anselm Kiefer’s paintings and sculptures are filled with references to the past. In the almost fifty years since he began working as an artist in postwar Germany, he has found inspiration in historical events, literature, poetry, alchemy, astronomy, chemistry, and religion. In his latest installation, For Louis-Ferdinand Céline: Voyage au bout de la nuit at the Copenhagen Contemporary until 6 August 2017, you can expect to discover four paintings and four lead sculptures of airplanes. These works, monumental in size, have never been exhibited before.
Kiefer has been making these airplane sculptures since the late 1980s. The pieces in this particular exhibition, with their battered, war-weary aura, dominate a 1,500-square-meter space. The paintings contain references to photographs the artist took during his travels in the Gobi Desert in 1993 and also to a scene in the Austrian writer Ingeborg Bachmann’s Book of Franza (1955), in which the title character unsuccessfully seeks solace in the barrenness of the desert.
The multiplicity of references and the diversity of materials can be – although not necessarily should be – interpreted as alluding to the philosophy of Emanationism, which holds that all things flow from and return to one infinite entity.
Anselm was born in Donaueschingen, Germany in 1945 and has lived and worked in France since 1993. After studying law, and Romance languages and literature, Kiefer devoted himself entirely to painting. He attended the School of Fine Arts at Freiburg im Breisgau, then the Art Academy in Karlsruhe.
Main image: Anselm Kiefer. For Louis-Ferdinand Céline: Voyage au bout de la nuit. Installation shot, Copenhagen Contemporary 2016. Photo: Anders Sune Berg