PRINT March 2003


1982: Anselm Kiefer’s Innenraum

Anselm Kiefer, Innenraum (Interior space), 1981,  oil, acrylic, shellac, and emulsion on canvas, 9' 5“ x 10' 2 3/8”.

WHEN ANSELM KIEFER’s Innenraum (Interior space), 1981, among other colossal paintings, knocked me for a loop at Mary Boone Gallery on West Broadway in 1982, I didn’t know that its image derived from a postwar photograph of Albert Speer’s Reich Chancellery in Berlin: the cavernous, skylit, ineffably racy “mosaic hall” where Hitler would meet around a map table with his military staff, making plans. Nor did I know much else (I only thought I did) about the Third Reich, or about German modern culture generally except as filtered through standard humanist, leftish, smoky vamps—Thomas Mann, the Bauhaus, Bertolt Brecht (trans. Eric Bentley), Marlene Dietrich. Imprinted with the Paris–to–New York mythos of modern art, I assumed that “German painting” was a typographical error.

That same year, I sat on a plane bound for Documenta 7, reading The Song of the Nibelungs. It was my first visit

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