Press release Exhibition Anselm Kiefer

Montricher, Friday, 8 February 2019

The German artist Anselm Kiefer (*1945, Donaueschingen) long hesitated between two practices, writing and painting. Although it was the latter he eventually chose, literature continues to play a preponderant role in his body of work. Through their materiality and esthetic, books were the first support for his artmaking, and writing every day in a journal has enabled the artist to reflect on his work and to engage in research that is closely connected with his thinking.

In his early book production, which he began in 1968-1969, Anselm Kiefer was sizing up certain schools of art like De Stijl, Suprematism, and Minimalism. At the same time he continued with his work on German history and culture as an antidote to the trauma experienced by his and subsequent generations after the Second World War but also, more simply, as an artistic exploration of himself and his roots.
Photography is often seen in the early books, but these already show the growing prevalence of drawing and watercolour, along with the appearance of materials like sand, pages clipped from magazines, hair, dried flowers, and miscellaneous objects. These unwritten volumes are designed like artist’s books, single copies, and serve at first as a place where Anselm Kiefer expressed ideas, associations and thoughts, the subsequent tomes quickly became a place for exploration in which the succession of pages made it possible to construct a narrative and situate it in time. The subjects elaborated there were then rescaled within the body of work as a whole, notably in his output of woodcuts. This art of the printmaking has allowed him to envision narrative forms in a completely different space from that of the painted canvas.

The present exhibition Anselm Kiefer Books and woodcuts is the result of a collaboration between the Jan Michalski Foundation for Writing and Literature in Montricher and the Astrup Fearnley Museet in Oslo. It aims to point up the artist’s many connections with poetry, myths, Sumerian and Biblical stories, fairytales, history, philosophy, Kabbalah, alchemy, and more, through a series of books dating from the years 1969 to 2017, and an accompanying selection of woodcuts, the most recent of which are being shown for the first time.

Natalia Granero, the Jan Michalski Foundation, Montricher, Switzerland
Gunnar B. Kvaran, the Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo, Norway

Show opens to the public

Thursday 7 February at 6:30 pm
Free entrance


Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, from 2 pm – 6 pm ǀ Saturday and Sunday, from 9 am to 6 pm
Admission: CHF 5.- (full price) ǀ CHF 3.- (students, groups, retirees, unemployed, persons with disabilities) ǀ Free to visitors under 18 and residents of Montricher
Free admission the first Sunday of each month.

The exhibition will subsequently run from 30 May to 25 August 2019 at the Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo.

Download the complete Press Release here.