Anselm Kiefer

South London Art Gallery/Anthony D'Offay

For a period of over three years during the early part of the decade, Anselm Kiefer did not produce any artwork. This fallow stretch followed immediately upon German unification and coincided with his departure from Germany and relocation to southern France. The previous decade and a half had seen a remarkable effort on Kiefer’s part to assimilate and make sense of German history, while meditating on the ability of the contemporary artist to carry out such a task. In the years leading up to unification, however, his work took on an air less of urgency than of frantic excess—one thinks of the lead bombers spilling hair and teeth in Paul Maenz’s final exhibition at his Cologne gallery in 1989, and the overblown bookcases of The High Priestess (Zweistromland), 1985, which, along with lead V2 rockets, occupied the main hall of Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie during Kiefer’s show there in 1991.

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