Anselkm Kiefer (Donaueschingen, 1945) dropped out of his Law degree in 1970 and began to study at the Düsseldorf Academy where he was a student of Joseph Beuys.
Production in his first stage revolved around German mythology, history, religion and symbology. The artist researched these topics and used them in turn as a means to side-step the process of collective amnesia concerning historic brutality and tragedy in a Germany that had been dismembered by World War Two, as it fought to reclaim its identity as a country.
Kiefer was one of the first artists to address the topics of Nazism and the holocaust, along with fellow Germans Georg Baselitz – with whom he represented Germany at the 1990 Venice Biennale – and Gerhard Richter. However, his daring meant that European audiences rejected him initially.
However, his work cannot be reduced to a mere historical theme. This leads to his second stage, beginning in the 80s when Kiefer left Germany. After travelling for three years, he set up home in New York. His themes diversified from then on and became more universal: the artist’s iconography and symbology broadened to address topics relating to civilisation, culture and spirituality, turning to sources such as alchemy, ancient myths and the Kabbalah.
In the early 90s, Kiefer moved to France. He set up his workshop in Barjac where he created a real laboratory: the workshop was a work of art in itself to house his pieces, made up of tunnels and pavilions built by him and his team. His workshop currently occupies a former hangar on the outskirts of Paris.