Man under a Pyramid (1996)
About this artwork
Usually denoting the presence of a tomb, ancient pyramids are commonly used to symbolise spiritual salvation. Kiefer’s structure is the same shape as the Great Pyramids in Egypt, whose stepped walls were believed to offer the deceased a safe passage to heaven. However, in Kiefer’s image, a body is still present beneath the pyramid. In his thick application of paint and ash, the artist creates a sense of gravity and re-contextualises the pyramid motif for a post-Holocaust era. Recalling the brick-like structures in his earlier paintings of Nazi mausoleums, it acts as a reminder to the haunting legacy of war.
- title: Man under a Pyramid
- accession number: AR00037
- artist: Anselm KieferGerman (born 1945)
- gallery: In Storage
- object type: Painting
- materials: Emulsion, acrylic paint, shellac and ash on 2 canvases
- date created: 1996
- measurements: overall: 354.5 x 503.5 x 9.5 cm (support: 730 x 503.0 x 9.5 cm / support: 281.5 x 503.0 x 6.5 cm )
- credit line: ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Acquired jointly through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008
- copyright: © ANSELM KIEFER
The German artist Anselm Kiefer gained prominence in 1969 with a series of photographs called 'Occupations', in which he was pictured giving the Nazi salute in various locations in Europe. This was Kiefer's first attempt to deal with Germany's recent cultural and political history, an ongoing theme in his work. From the 1980s the artist also began to explore other histories, taking nordic mythology, literary and biblical themes and Jewish mysticism as subjects. Kiefer's heavily textured, large-scale artworks (including books as well as paintings) are created with unusual but symbolic materials, such as lead, straw, cloth and tar.