Friday, May 13, 2011

Artist of the Month-Anselm Kiefer

Dark paths wandering through ancient forests haunted by ghosts, barren landscapes scourged by a thousand years of armies, echoing halls filled with the voices of un-remembered stories. Lord of the Rings?, Wagner?, Grimm's Fairy Tales?

There is probably no living artist who has influenced my work more than Anselm Kiefer. (b. 1945) Embodying the essence of Post-Modernist ideals Kiefer's work discarded the modernist concept that art should have no ties to the past and that traditional story telling and painting should be abandoned. Surrounded in my college years by teachers who were steadfast devotees of Modernism, Kiefer for me was an unparalleled inspiration. He not only made paintings, he made Huge paintings, about epic subjects. War, Death, Religion, History, all shrouded in the mythological context of his German heritage.

Kiefer's moody and titanic works appear like massive relics of some ancient ruin which still inform my work today. His use of found objects, raw materials and the layering of text and surface to create tonal mood is echoed every time I overlay a texture into my digital paintings, or create a custom brush. His reverence of mythology encouraged me to read the Norse myths and Authurian Legends which furthered my love of Fantasy and works of Tolkien. Although I know that his neo-expressionistic collages are depicting Germany's dark past, for me, whenever I look at his paintings I am equally reminded of Tolkien's bleak descriptions of Mirkwood, The Mines of Moria and Mordor.


at top: Varus. 1976
oil and acrylic on burlap
Royal Museum of fine Arts, Antwerp

Shulamith. 1983
mixed media on canvas 114"x 145"
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

Nuremburg. 1982
mixed media on canvas 110"x 149"
Private Collection, Los Angeles

I assume that it is not by coincidence that the artists who designed The Ministry of Magic in the 2007 film Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix made the black-tiled walls look like Keifer's "Shulamith"...