Saturday, December 11, 2010

Nigredo, Kiefer

Anselm Kiefer was born the year World War II ended in Germany. Still, much of his art reflects themes and reminders of the dark times preceding his birth. This piece is photographic at its base, with different materials and artistic procedures added on to the top of it. It's massive canvas is devoted wholly to a German landscape. That landscape though is not a beautiful one. It is torn apart and devastated, recalling the years of war that left Germany in ruin both agriculturally, socially, politically and economically. Kiefer captures that destruction in this piece. However, he gives hope by writing the word, Nigredo, in the top left corner of the painting. Nigredo refers the alchemy, the process of the Medieval times that was believed to turn regular matter into gold. Nigredo is the first step of this long-ago process in which a burning takes place that is then followed by the presence of light. Through his painting, Kiefer is able to fortify his belief that though his country has been brought to its knees by years of conflict and war, it still has the power to rise up and become something beautiful and luminous. 

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