Anselm Kiefer

Palette (1981)

About this artwork

Throughout his career, Kiefer has explored the problematic cultural legacy inherited by artists in post-war Germany. In this composition, the artist symbolises his situation through the depiction of a painter’s palette, hanging tentatively from a burning thread. Painted thinly against an ambiguous blue-grey background, Kiefer’s image evokes the anguish left by the destructive legacy of Nazism, and the sense of shame and loss experienced by his nation after the Second World War. Pointing to the impossibility of artistic creation in this climate, the painting is related to a larger series of works by Kiefer that juxtapose palettes with images of war-torn Germany.

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  • title: Palette
  • accession number: AR00613
  • artist: Anselm KieferGerman (born 1945)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • date created: 1981
  • measurements: 290.50 x 400.00 x 3.50 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
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve
This artwork is part of Artist Rooms

Anselm Kiefer

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.