Anselm Kiefer

Anthony D'Offay Gallery

As far as I can tell, Anselm Kiefer’s work is devoid of any recognizable sense of humor. Weighty and monumental, it takes itself seriously, in the solemn tradition of history painting. This might not be worth mentioning, but for the fact that several of the pieces here play with notions of truth and knowledge as they are embodied in the book or library. This strategy calls to mind Umberto Eco’s novel The Name of the Rose, 1983. The power of Eco’s book lies in the Rabelaisian frivolity with which the notion of learning is dismantled and reduced to a kind of dessicated narrow-mindedness. Books, 1987, and Alexandria, 1987–88, present a Piranesian library licked by flames; however, Kiefer, unlike Eco, shows no sense of the tragicomic liberation from logocentric tyranny that the burning of the library represents. The High Priestess/Zweistromland, 1985–89, has the appearance of an archeological

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