Anselm Kiefer – Cultural Healing through Memory

Cultural Healing/Heritage through Memory

This paper examines the artist Anselm Kiefer, and the notions of memory as heritage within the work produced by him.  It is therefore suggested that exploring the values and meanings associated with Kiefer’s art works in this way within contemporary society provides valuable insight into the complex relationships of art, memory and identity.  There tends to be an inter-relationship of identity, place and history in terms of memory (Connerton, 1995).  In recent years, considerable attention has been given to the fundamental dialiectic between time and space within studies of landscape and place.  Both have been regarded as complex roles within nations of heritage and memory (Boswell and Evans, 1999, Edensor, 2002).

Culminating with the idea that history is situated in the art produced, the focus on memory switches attention to the way places and time are actively constituted and reconstructed in multiple ways on an ongoing basis (Duncan & Duncan, 1998).  In this light, art as lieux de memoire (Nora, 1998) also conceptually emerge as the medium through which multiple histories are simultaneiously remembered and forgotten (CcCrone, 1998).  Sites of memory, lieux de mémoire is a translation into French of memory places (loci memoriae), which was coined by Pierre Nora.  Nora identified and analysed the key sites of memory of the French nation.  For Nora, a site of memory is an important entity, both immaterial and material, which has transformed into a symbolic element of the memorial heritage of a community.  Furthermore, in his seven-volume study of sites of memory Les Lieux de mémoire (1984-92) are sites of memory where culture crystallizes itself, and can include places such as archives, museums, or memorials; concepts or practices such as commemorative rituals; objects such as emblems or manuals and symbols.

Collective memory is most commonly associated with Maurice Halbwachs.  For Halbwachs, collective memory refers to memories that are shared, passed on, and constructed by the group, as opposed to an individual subject.  Halbwach, a follower of Emile Durkheim’s interest in social psychology, refuted Henri Bergson’s individualistic philosophy: the unconscious approach leading to his analysis of dreams.  Therefore, the ‘individual memory’ for Halbwach represents a paradoxical formulation that dreams are not structured enough to fit into a social representation.  More contemporary scholars , such as Paul Connerton explores the human body as a site for collective memory processes, whilst James E. Young has prposed that we refer to ‘collected memory’rather than ‘collective memory’ as groups and societies can only remember through their empowered or dominant memories that prevail.  However, an interplay between the individual and collective memory is abound within the works of Kiefer, that reflects the dispute among the two ‘schools of thought’.

Mark Kishlansky, a prominent historian:  gives a compelling story of history through a political and social lenze, enhanced with images of  Western Civilization in the book Civilizatin in the West.  He speaks of a time frame of approximately three hundred generations, where “generations since the orginis of civilization have bequeathed a rich and contradictory heritage to the present.”  He furthermore speaks of “inherited political and social institutions, cultural forms, religious, and philosophical traditions from the framework within which the future must be created.”  Moreover, he uses a legacy in which “the past does not determine the future, but it is the raw material from which the future will be made” and that in order for us to use this properly, we must first understand it, “not because the past holds the key to the future, but because understanding yesterday frees us to create tomorrow”.[1]  It is in fact over time, that a culture may evolve into what is termed a civilization.

Today, I propose that Kiefer’s work therefore represents a reclaiming of Germany’s atrocities as a collecitve ‘memory’, a populist symbol within the post-modern era ‘obsessed with the issue of memory’ of history enabling Germans to better understand their national identity as a form of lieux de mémoire.[2] (Whitehead, 1)

One of the primary concerns regarding culture since commencing my graduate studies in Arts and Heritage is the framework of cultural values.  The value of one culture set against anothers’ cultural underlying values.  Hofstede, a prominent figure in cultural studies gives his definition of culture as being “the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one category of people from another.”[3]  When exploring Kiefer’s art work, a need arises within the viewer to understand the schisms present within German culture.

Anthropologists have been discussing and debating definitions of culture since the origin of the discipline in the 19th century.  In 1952 two prominent American anthropologists, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn, published an entire volume cataloging different definitions of culture.

A useful summary of that discussion, grouping their 160 different definitions into eight categories, is provided by John Bodley in his Cultural Anthropology: Tribes, States and the Global System (1994).  Bodley goes on to distill what is useful in these categories and to define culture in a useful way.  Culture, he suggests, is made up of at least three components: what people think, what they do, and the material products they produce. The problem with defining culture as shared values and beliefs, as some anthropologists do, is that there can be a vast difference between what people think they ought to do (value) and what they actually do (behavior).

Moreover, we get much of our evidence for what people do from what people make – that is, from material things (archaeologists, artists, craftsmen/woman).  So we really need to include all three components in a definition of culture.  Besides these components, culture has several properties: to quote Bodley, it is “shared, learned, symbolic, transmitted cross-generational – adaptive, and integrated.” For example, there is common agreement in a culture on what things mean.  Members of a culture share specific symbolic meanings, including (but not limited to) language.

The term lieux de mémoire can also take on a rather composite form, as has been the case for many scholars.  It tends to invoke dispute within its cultural and political meanings.  The complexities that the term endeavers have led to a snow-ball effect within a diverse set of  disciplines across time and space, thus blurring its borders even further with globalization and the even more recent terminology of glocalization.

Richard Cándida Smith speaks of “Sounds and Gestures of Recollection” in his book Art and the Performance of Memory, which can assist with the interpretation of this term within the arts through the practice of memory studies as we will see in the case of the German artist, Anselm Kiefer.  Smith brings to the foreground the expressive forms and media produced by visual and performing artists and “the need to throw immediate sensual experiences off into words underscores the ambiguous if necessary relation of word, gesture, and object in the consolidation of experience and memory”.[4]  For this reason, I will discuss Anselm Kiefer with three of his works, as a practitioner in the making of  the lieux de memoire – reflecting his deconstruction methodology of German Identity as a healing process.

Anselm Kiefer, a German artist born in 1945, was the student of Josef Beuys.[5]  Unlike his teacher Beuys who had been a victim of war and the first artist to face up to Hitlerism and the holocaust, Kiefer did not experience that period as he was a post-war artist, holding a strand of inherited memory.  Kiefer lived at a time of constant political debate as to whether Germany should ignore the past or face it.  The viewer of Kiefer’s works may invariably wonder what classifies Kiefer as a postmodern artist given the strong element of tradition that characterizes him.  Kiefer, as we will see, quotes tradition and attributes it in a whole new meaning.

Huyssen suggests that a way in which we can gain an insight into the sociopolitical climate in which Kiefer’s work developed is to relate Kiefer’s work to three West German cultural phenomena and the ways in which they portray the shadow of the haunted past on West German culture.  Firstly, the praising of the international success of the new German cinema in the 1950s.  Secondly, the formation of the Neoexpressionists from the 1960’s.  Thirdly, the historians’ debate over the German National Identity.  Below I am going to discuss the bearing of each of these phenomena on Kiefer’s work.

The German cinema was driven by questions of German identity –on the personal, political, cultural and sexual levels.  These questions seemed to carry the underlying acknowledgment that the fascist past and postwar democratic present are inescapably chained together.  Moreover, Huyssen draws parallels between Kiefer’s treatment of fascist imagery and Syberberg’s major films: both Kiefer and Syberberg were accused of sympathizing with fascism.

Secondly the instant stardom of a group of Berlin painters who had been painting for two decades, but were only recognized in the early 1980’s:  die neuen Wilden, the neoexpressionists, because of their return to pictorial strategies had clearly placed an impact on Kiefer. As we will see, he utilizes pictorial strategies in order to keep nostalgia at bay.  Huyssen brings to the foreground the political/aesthetic debates sparked by the German expressionists in the 1930’s, which consequently and ironically legitimized a return to figuration after abstraction, minimalism, and concept art.  According to Arnason and Mansfield “ on a global level, challenges to the primacy of painting grew more frequent and emphatic during the second half of the century  Minimalism, Conceptualism, and Postmodernism had all questioned the relevance of traditional easel painting”.  We could view these three phases as a mode of change/in culture, and as a shift from Modernity towards Post-Modernity.  The latter being the memory of a forgotten past towards a capitalist, mass consumer culture.

Thirdly, is the more contemporary (1986) so-called Historikerstreit, i.e. the historians’ debate over the German responsibility for the holocaust, the alleged need to “historicize” the fascist past, and the problem of a German national identity, of the Bitburg syndrome.[6]  Furthermore, Jürgen Habermans, a member of the “Frankfurt School” observes that the historians’ debate “was in truth a debate about the self-understanding of the Federal Republic today”.  For the first time since the war, the political and cultural climate resurfaced the issues of national identity, with the aim to free German nationalism from the shadows of fascism.[7]

Upon viewing a critique on culture, it must be stated that the first social critique had developed out of Marxism.  However, due to its lack of interest within the arts, was seen as inadequate.  The most influential type of cultural criticism to emerge from Marxism was by the “Frankfurt School.”  Due to the rise of Fascism, many of the leading members sought refuge in America, where they continued to write in German.  Of these leaders, Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno first published the influential essay “The Culture Industry:  Enlightenment as Mass Deception.”

Adorno and Horkheimer theorized that the phenomenon of mass culture has a political implication, namely that all the many forms of popular culture are a single culture industry whose purpose is to ensure the continued obedience of the masses to market interests through film, radio and magazines – to manipulate the masses into passivity no matter how difficult their economic circumstances.  They saw this mass-produced culture as a danger to the more traditional, ideal “high” arts.  They considered this ideal art, as “pure” works of art that have the ability to “deny the commodity society by the very fact that they obey their own law.”  They considered the Culture industries to manipulate the masses through false needs (needs created and satisfied by capitalism),  as opposed  to the true needs of: freedom, creativity and happiness.

Their theory was aimed at emancipating the consumer from the producers by having the consumer question beliefs and ideologies in society.  It is Art that has always been and will always protest against the domineering institutions, i.e. reclaiming a traditional stance towards high art.  As a result the real world becomes indistinguishable from the movies / advertising.  The combined effect of these developments is to undermine the foundations of individual identity.[8]  It is within the scope of indivdual memory that we need to hold in contrast to the collective memory of a region/nation/global level.

In contrast to Adorno, Walter Benjamin, essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” (1936) saw the “popular” media of photography and film as a positive effect, thus transforming the traditional aesthetic values towards a more comprehensive redefinition of art.[9]

The political/aesthetic controversy discussed above is evident in Kiefer’s work, as we will see when examining his early and later works and the critiques associated with them.  Kiefer’s work provides an important resource for the theorists of the postmodern, involving a sense of newness, a shift in ways of thinking, in psychology, and in the way the people perceived historical past.[10]  A metaphor could be created within the generation gap between the student (Kiefer) and the teacher (Beuys) that reflects the shift to postmodernism as a response to and consequence of modernism.

However, in this paper I do not purport to define the postmodern condition but rather trace the characteristics that make Kiefer ‘postmodern’ by re-constructing a German Identity.  In my attempt to do this, I will highlight Kiefer’s combined use of material practice (mixed media, textual representation, alchemy) and historical narration (mythical allusions, religious imagery, cultural artifacts), as agents providing the viewer with the necessary ‘equipment’  to contemplate questions pertaining to the individual memory and to contemporary life.  I will show, drawing on Anna Brailovsky, the impact that Kiefer’s historical distance from the atrocities of the war has on his work.  In fact this distance is thematized in his pictorial vocabulary.

Kiefer 1

Figure 1

The first project of Kiefer’s I will be discussing is Besetzungen [Occupations] (1969).  (fig. 1)  The historical narrative as agent is evident in this project, as, in it, Kiefer delves into Germany’s Nazi past through a direct citation of Nazi elements.  The project was part of his graduation work at the Karlsruhe Academy of Fine Art, provoking an extraordinary scandal: it consists of a series of black and white photographs documented in book form.  Kiefer appears dressed in uniform, deliberately staged in gesture of the National Socialist salute, against a variety of generic landscapes only identifiable by their titles, or of various European landmarks.  To bring forth further ambiguity, he is portrayed ankle-deep in a bath tub filled with water.  Might the element of water be part of his use of alchemy which -as we will see later- also involves fire, lead and straw?  And if so, might the use of water here be alluding to cleansing?

Another means through which Kiefer achieves ambiguity in Occupations is by the very title of the project.  The title is not directly linked to the project but refers to the Nazi military occupation of Europe.  According to Brailovsky, it refers to the complex relation between trauma, remembrance, and representation.  The use of such linguistic contrivances prefigures Kiefer’s future work; in fact, as we will see, text becomes a dominant feature and a strategy of distancing the signified from the signifier in his paintings.

The combination of historical narrative and material practice in the project is made clear through the concept of historical distance.  Kiefer, as stated in the beginning, was too young to have participated in the war so he shows this distance through manipulating imagery in a staging manner.  However, Kiefer’s attempt to distance himself from the Nazi past was not made clear to all critics.  In fact, he was accused of trying to create nostalgia about it among German viewers through his obsessive repetition of the past.  In Anna Brailovsky’s words however, these “historical references are presented to the viewer as part of a deliberately orchestrated staging whose chief aim is to frustrate any nostalgic impulse”.[11]  Anna Brailovsky further proposes that Occupations “can be understood as a pictorial form of Brechtian theatre and that the true object of the painting’s critique is not Nazism, but rather the contemporary German viewer’s relationship to Germany’s Nazi past” [12].

An interesting lens through which we can see the Occupations is provided by Bertolt Brecht’s plays and theoretical pronouncements.  In Brecht’s approach, the audience is prompted to maintain a certain detachment and to exercise their critical faculties rather than being encouraged to identify with the protagonists in order to achieve some sort of emotional catharsis.  Similarly, in Kiefer’s work, the viewer is not encouraged to identify with the protagonist (in this case Hitler) but is prompted to view him critically and/or detach him/herself from him.[13]  At this point we could link Adorno’s theory to Kiefer’s strategy of having the viewers question their beliefs and ideologies of the past.  Moreover, as Wood and Harrison recall “the value of the individual artist: the artist has a crucial function to perform- only individuals are still capable of representing consciously and negatively the concerns of collectivity.[14]

Brailovsky further proposes a psychoanalytic reading of Occupations by discussing the role of cathexis (investment of libidinal energy) in mourning.  She claims that the subject must gradually withdraw the cathectic energy from the lost object and attach it to a new love object thus avoiding an extreme form of melancholy.  Through reference to Alexander and Margarethe Mitscherlich’s book The Inability to Mourn she posits that the Germans had suffered a traumatic loss of Hitler as love object/father figure, and that because this trauma had not been properly addressed it was bequeathed to the next generation.  Brailovsky further states that Kiefer’s defenders in the 1980s perceived him as performing a mourning task  in memory of, and through identifying with both the Nazi violator and the Jewish victim he brought the trauma to the surface thus facilitating the process of coming to terms with it.[15]

Kiefer 2

Figure 2

Kiefer 3

Figure 3

The Nazi/Jewish juxtaposition is superbly manifested in Kiefer’s paintings Your Golden Hair, Margarete (1981) (fig. 2) and Shulamith (1983) (fig.3).  Shulamith (dark hair) who is treated in many of Kiefer’s works symbolizes a Jewish woman referred to in the Song of Solomon  and  is often placed vis-à-vis Margarete (blonde hair), Margarete is the blonde personification of Aryan womanhood, a German heroine.  Kiefer was influenced by Paul Celan’s poem  Fugue of Death written in a Nazi concentration camp in 1945.  According to Harrison and Wood “the poem suggests that the two women are linked to each other, and to Germany: they constitute a ‘whole’, pre-Nazi German culture”.[16]   A few lines from this poem follow:

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night

we drink you at noon death comes as a master from Germany

we drink you at nightfall and morning we drink you and drink you

a master from Germany death comes with eyes that are blue

with a  bullet of lead he will hit in the mark he will hit you

a man in the house your golden hair Margarete

he hunts us down with his dogs in the sky he gives us a grave

he plays with the serpents and dreams death comes as a master from


Theodor Adorno claimed that “after Auschwitz lyric poetry was no longer possible.  The unimaginable horrors of the holocaust had irretrievably pushed poetic language, especially that written in German, to the edges of silence.”[18]  According to Huyssen, Kiefer’s series of paintings Your Golden Hair, Margarete and Shulamite, Kiefer did for painting what Celan did for poetry more than thirty years ago.  “Kiefer’s equation of fascism with the end of painting takes on a different connotation.  For him, too, as for Celan and Adorno, it is indeed fascism that has brought about the ultimate crisis of art in this century.”

In the work Your Golden Hair, Margarete, Kiefer has directed the viewer’s eye towards an offset-one-point perspective, rendered pictorially with linear striations employing the earthly landscape of Germany.  The high horizon line deliberately brings the foreground of the work directly to the viewer.  This is then juxtaposed with the spiraling curves of black paint (Shulamite hair) alongside the lighter twigs of straw (Margarete’s hair).  As the poem suggests, they lie together in memory as one.  Furthermore, the title of the painting is inscribed in black above both, manifesting the importance of textual representation in Kiefer’s work.[19]

Even more powerful, is the monumental painting of Shulamite.  Kiefer now relates to German architecture by appropriating a fascist design of the Funeral Hall for the Great German Soldiers into a haunting memorial to the victims of the holocaust.  As opposed to the high horizon level seen in the previous painting, here Kiefer makes use of a low-level perspective, as if the viewer were about to step into a dark cavern, as if in a mourning procession.  The only source of light is that from the seven tiny flames that allude to the symbolic ‘tree of knowledge,’ otherwise known in the ancient Jewish tradition as the menorah (Temple).

Huyssen speaks of the transformation of fascist architectural space into a memorial for Nazi victims.  In doing that, Kiefer creates an effect of critical Umfunktionierung.[20]  The term stems from Bertolt Brecht’s seminal conceptual strategy, translated as “functionally transforming”.[21]  Walter Benjamin too uses the term in his The Author as Producer (1934).  For Benjamin, the more completely he can orient his activity toward this task of Umfunktionierung, the more correct will be the political tendency, and necessarily also the higher the technical quality, of his work.[22]  “This effect reveals the fascist genocidal end within its own celebratory memorial spaces.”[23]  In other words, the memorial is rededicated to the victims and the ‘altar’, which initially stood in the German memorial hall, is replaced by the Jewish candelabra.  Paul Wood and Charles Harrison furthermore assume that Kiefer’s “art can intervene in history, and if not – redeem (Holocaust is beyond redemption), then perhaps by allegorizing it, to offer back a past to the present.”

Andreas Huyssen, in his 1983 article addressing the Germanness in question “the new German Painting”, states:

Kiefer’s use of paint is like the use of fire to cremate the bodies of dead, however, dubious, heroes, in the expectation of their phoenix-like resurrection in another form.  The new German painters perform an extraordinary service for the German people.  They lay to rest the ghosts-profound as only the monstrous can be-of German style, and history, so that the people can be authentically new….They can be freed of a past identity by artistically reliving it.[24]

Charles Harrison and Paul Wood have noted that “Postmodernist Demands for an active reader as opposed to a passive viewer have been legion.”  They have stressed the aesthetic contemplation being a part of the traditions of elitism.  For them, the concept of ‘contemplation’ has shifted blindly into ‘consumption’ while the viewer has been left to undertake an analytical and critical approach.  “By contrast, much socially critical work functions as an injunction to act upon the world.”  However, it seems that Anselm Kiefer has been working with a third term:  a properly Postmodernist spectator, “who contemplates art in time, becomes self-conscious about his or her position in the world and is led thereby to reflect upon his or her inscription in history.”[25]

Upon having viewed the selection of Kiefer’s oeuvre we cannot but notice the monumental size, intense use of mixed media, expressive ‘modernist’ brush work, spatial tension, and diverse cultural references.  Kiefer’s work is also characterized by the use of the tradition of narration in a contemporary mode, under the guise of neo-expressionism.  Tradition in Kiefer’s work is manifested through historical narration, mythology and the ancient practice of alchemy that constitutes the content and materials appropriated.  Furthermore, Kiefer’s art can be seen as reinvesting the modern tradition with those very clichés of the spiritual and profound, that which the Modernists were trying to discharge of.  Moreover, the recognition of the role of the spectator can be seen as a characteristic of Postmodernism, whereas Modernist paintings required a more passive spectator.

To conclude, the critical stance that Kiefer as an ‘individual’ artist portrayed towards his contemporary collective and collectied memory is evident.  The mere staging of victims and perpretators within space and time has been a step towards healing by reconstructing a cultural identity.  This led to yet another system of values that created a further web of memories for both the Jewish and German communities world-wide.

It seems integral that the memory of such trauma within cultures can be understood by understanding the memories as art-works, complex, and truthful.  These memories are in need of understanding that can purport its meaning, whether it is in the form of art produced, story-telling, or in a monumental building within the realms of heritage and conservation.  It is apparent that what is presented from the past, and how it is portrayed and interpreted, is a crucial ingredient in the continuous formation and re-formation of perceptions of the past.[26]

To conclude, Huyssen drew particular attention to the inauguration of Daniel Libestkind’s Jewish Museum in Berlin, along with other notable examples within the 21st century. Such as Pieter Eisenman’s memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe, also in Berlin.  Huyssen links the ‘memory boom’ to the development of new media technologies gives rise to the fast pace of “temporality with their instant entertainment, frenetic pace, and quick oblivion”.  He furthermore makes use of the term ‘reaction formation’ to represent ‘cultural obsession’ against the accelerated technical processes – in aid of an “attempt to slow down information processing and to anchor ourselves in more extended structures of temporality”.

Huyssen thus “regards the current memory boom as a “potentially healing sign of contestation” against the waining historical consciousness”.  Whereas David Lowenthal’s investigation into why ‘heritage’has loomed so large in western societies over the past few decades is based on the influence of technology ‘to keep our bearings’; the importance of [m]assive migration which acts to ‘sharpen nostalgia’.  “Displacement is therefore countered by a quest for roots… and a desire for mementoes of lifestyles that have been lost.   Anne Whitehead adds a number of further causes to those identified by Lowenthal; the renewed interest within memory studies that has followed from “the popularization of discourses of virtual memory, prosthetic memory, and the electronic memory of computers”;  “marked rise in concern with popular memory and a proliferation of archives, particularly oral archives, established to preserve the memories of ordinary people”; and lastly, the need to face the autrocities of war, genocide and ethnocides that have loomed within the twenthieth century.  “The Holocause has inevitably loomed large, but there has also been a broader concern with how other traumatic instances can be remembered and lived within the present”.[27]

Nietzsche’s philosophy of mind is consistent with Kiefer’s notion of the sedimented layers of meaning we need to probe.  Kiefer’s work confronts us with the tragic nature of our own history.  Although his renewal of genres (like the landscape) may seem to reinstitute organic vision and wholeness, he does so in order to draw us in like “a bee to a flower,” to ponder the conflicting texts that constitute our history within both with individual and collective memory.[28]



Adorno, T. W.  Aesthetic Theory.  Trans. and Introd. Robert Hullot-Kentor.  (Minneapolis:  University of Minnesota Press, 1997).

Arnason, H.H, Prather, F. Marla.  A History of Modern Art:  Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Photography, 4 Ed.  (London: Thames and Hudsen, 1988).

Benjamin, Walter. The Author as Producer.  Reflections. Ed. and intr. Peter Demetz. (New York: Schocken, 1978).

Brailovsky, Anna.  “The Epic Tableau: Verfremdungseffekte in Anselm Kiefer’s Varus. New German Critique 71, (1997): 115-138.  JSTOR. University of Maastricht Libraries, Maastricht,Nl, 18 Oct 2012 <;

Brecht, Bertolt.  Brecht on Theatre.  Ed. and trans. John Willett. (New York: Hill and Wang, 1964).

Danto, Arthur C.  After the End of Art: Contemporary Art and the Pale of History, (Princeton: Princeton, 1995).

Fugmann, Nicole.  “Contemporary Editorial Theory and the Transvaluation of Postmodern Critique.” Indiana University Press 10, (1997): 15-29.  JSTOR. University of Maastricht, Maastricht, Nl.  22 Oct 2012 <;

Gilmour, John C.  Fire on the Earth, (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990).

Halbwachs, Maurice.  On Collective Memory.  Ed. and Trans. and with an Intro. by Lewis A. Coser. (Chicago: Chicago Press, 1992).

Hofstede, G. (1984). National cultures and corporate cultures. 1984.    (p. 51). Hofstede, G. (1984). National cultures and corporate cultures. In L.A. Samovar & R.E. Porter (Eds.), Communication Between Cultures. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Huyssen, Andreas.  “Anselm Kiefer: The Terror of History, the Temptation of the Myth.” The Mit Press 48, (1989): 25-45.  JSTOR. University of Maastricht Libraries, Maastricht, Nl.  22 Oct 2012 <;

Sandler, Irving, Art of the Postmodern Era: From the Late 1960s to the Early 1990s, (New York: Harper Collins, 1996).

Smith, Richard Cándida, Art and the Performance of Memory: Sounds and Gestures of Recollection, (London: Routledge, 2002).

Whitehead, Anne, Memory: The New Critical Idiom, (London: Routledge, 2009).

Williams, Robert.  Art Theory: An Historical Introduction, (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004).



Figure one

Anselm Kiefer: Besetzungen [Occupations], 1969, Photographs, Bound in Book form.

Figure two

Anselm Kiefer: Dein goldenes Haar, Margarethe [Your Golden Hair, Margarete], 1981, oil, acrylic, straw on canvas, 130 x 170 cm, Collection Sanders, Amsterdam.

Figure three

Anselm Kiefer: Shulamith, 1983, oil, acrylic, emulsion, shellac, straw and woodcut fragments on canvas
290 x 370 cm, Saatchi Collection, London.


Foot Notes:

[1]  Mark Kishlansky, Patrick Geary, Patricia O’Brien, Civilization in the West, Introduction.

[2]  Andreas Huyssen, Twilight Memories: Marking Time in a Culture of Amnesia. 1995.

[3]  Hofstede, G, National cultures and corporate cultures, 51.

[4]  Richard Cándida Smith, Art and the Performance of Memory: Sounds and Gestures of Recollection, (London:

Routledge, 2002), 2.

[5]   Irving Sandler, Art of the Postmodern Era: From the Late 1960s to the Early 1990s, (New York: Harper Collins

Publishing, 1996), 296.


[6]   The public debate about proposals to erect national monuments and national history museums in Bonn and in


[7]   Andreas Huyssen, Anselm Kiefer: The Terror of History, the Temptation of the Myth, 27-28.

[8]   Robert Williams, Art Theory: An Historical Introduction, (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004), 227.

[9]   Ibid., Art Theory, 227-229

[10]   Nicole Fugmann, Contemporary Editorial Theory and the Transvaluation of Postmodern Critique, 21.

[11]   Anna Brailovsky, 116

[12]   Ibid., 116

[13]   Robert Williams, Art Theory: An Historical Introduction, (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004), 191.

[14]  Ibid., 227.

[15]   Anna Brailovsky, 117-118.

[16]   Paul Wood and Charles Harrison, 247-249.

[17]   Rosenthal, Ansem Kiefer, 95-96.

[18]   Andreas Huyssen, Anslem Kiefer:  The Terror of History, the Temptation of Myth, 40.

[19]   Paul Wood and Charles Harrison, Modernism in Dispute, 247. Andreas Huyssen, Anselm Kiefer:  The Terror of

History, the Temptation of Myth, 41.

[20]   Andreas Huyssen, Anslem Kiefer:  The Terror of History, the Temptation of Myth, 43.

[21]   Brecht, Bertolt. Brecht on Theatre.

[22]   Benjamin, Walter. “The Author as Producer,” 1978, 220-238.

[23]   Andreas Huyssen, Anslem Kiefer:  The Terror of History, the Temptation of Myth, 43.

[24]   Ibid., Donald B. Kuspit, “Flak from the ‘Radicals’: The American Case Against German Painting,” in Brian Wallis,

ed., Art After Modernism

[25]   Paul Wood and Charles Harrison, Modernism in Dispute.

[26]  Uzzel, 1989a, 1989b, The politics of World Heritage, 5

[27]   Anne Whitehead, Memory, 2.

[28]   John C. Gilmour, Fire on the Earth, 92.

By Demetrios Voulgarellis


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Maggie Lindner says:

    Extremely interesting. A very closely packed article of many ideas that need to be examined . on their own.


    1. Thank you kindly. It was indeed such a beautiful journey for me to research this artist and his powerful works of art.


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