Monday, August 28, 2006

Everyone Lives Beneath Their Own Heaven

Anselm Kiefer Sternenfall (Falling Stars), 1995, Oil on canvas,
90 1/2 x 67 inches (230 x 170 cm),

The Kimberly and I went to DC this past weekend to check out a number of exhibits, an aquatic park and to have Blue Crabs with my family on Saturday evening. I'm going to do a few posts and catch up on this here internet... I've missed writing and now that I finally got my monitor back (actually the old one couldn't be fixed and I was allocated a new one :)), and by this evening our DSL will be up and running again so this will become a regular habit again.

First we went to the Hirshorn to check out the Anselm Kiefer exhibit. I have long been a Kiefer devotee and honestly I feel a little embarrassed of how much I used to love his paintings- I do still love them but I guess that now I feel like I see them from a less vulnerable, less self-conscious, and less melodramatic point of view. I possess (what seems to me to be) sincere empathy for the inheritors of Germany's mid 20th Century history and think that aside from Wenders' Wings of Desire, no one other than Keifer does a better job at presenting the existential quagmire that is being a German of a certain age (I used to be enamored w/ Baselitz too and think that all of those inverted portraits are successful only when presented en masse). But this weekend, upon seeing this (chronological) survey I feel like once Kiefer started attaching the lead sculptures and sunflowers --sonnenblumen-- to his canvases, they get a bit schmaltzy- a bit like a bad-ass, poignant rock'n'roll band feeling like they need to doll themselves in make-up in order to come off as that much more evil. Keifer's sunflowers are like devil locks down the center of Glenn Danzig's forehead.

I write the above to offer some balance to what is still a deep respect for the many paintings and the obnoxiously large lead books that Kiefer has been occupying himself with. I think the biggest treat (and greatest surprise) for me was seeing the works on paper, like this one-- Winter Landscape from 1970. They are such a relief amdist all the bravado- so restrained, subtle (and small) compared to the monumentally manly and angst-ridden paintings.

I love how his canvases (and his drawings) all seem to be smoldering!

1 comment:

uhlstreet said...

i'm so jealous
Stephen and i really want to go see that exhibit before it's gone
Of all the painters Stephen's introduced me to over the years, Anselm Kiefer is definitely my favorite
I was able to see one of his paintings in person during our last trip to the Hirshorn years ago, but i'm anxious to see a full show