Anselm Kiefer Plows Back Into Germany's Troubled History

Gagosian Gallery hosts the artist's huge new show

Much of the show is viscerally beautiful: Paintings of gloomy, tree-clotted forests and mountains crusted with clouds in Kiefer's signature burnt blacks, smoky grays, sepulchral whites, and dried-blood browns, coalesce into desolate, brooding quiet. The vistas call to mind the wastelands, still strewn with long forgotten ordnance, that surround the eradicated Austrian village of Dollersheim, which Hitler had blasted off the map in an attempt to destroy any trace of a family past he feared might be tainted with Jewish blood. To this day, locals refer to the place as verfallen—"ruined."

Decay is the way: Merkaba, 2010
Anselm Kiefer/Courtesy Gagosian Gallery
Decay is the way: Merkaba, 2010

Hitler tried to hide his origins. Kiefer wears his like an outsize badge.

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