Friday, August 1, 2014

Amselm Kiefer at Mass MOCA

It has been a long time since I was so affected and inspired by another artists work. As a result I was a bit unprepared for my reaction to this show of Anselm Kiefer at Mass MOCA.

I had never actually been in the presence of his work. I had up until now only seen photos in books. And frankly, photos just don’t do this artist  justice. The work has to be seen to be experienced. The color. The texture. The size. The meaning. Everything.

All of it took my breath away. I kept wishing that there had been a place to sit and just contemplate the works because I could have sat there all day.

One part of the show consists of 30 paintings. 30 very large paintings. 15 on one wall and 15 on the other. The paintings are housed inside of a large corrugated room, kind of like a shipping container only bright and light. You can get an idea of the exhibit by following this link:

The first thing I noticed of course, was his palette. I love a neutral palette. He uses neutrals in a most exciting way. Greys, blacks, whites and some yellows and reds give meaning and energy to the work.  The paintings have so much light even though they are so dark. And they have so much motion and vibrancy. And the texture was just astounding.  I have read that he leaves his paintings outside in the open air and weather in order to further texturize and age them. Can you imagine leaving your work outside in the elements for over a year? That really takes a lot of nerve and respect for what can happen!

This series of paintings is inspired by the work of the futurist Russian poet Velimir Chlebnikov and deals with war at sea and the poets own mathematical theory that climatic sea battles occur every 317 years.  But there is much more than war going on in these paintings.

There are many embedded objects and  there are ships the artist built attached to the surface of the paintings. He even uses actual dead sunflowers in some of the pieces. There is also lots of writing although the words are in German and so I couldn’t read them which made them even more intriguing as a design element rather than copy.

I am now studying everything I can get my hands on by and about this painter. He also makes books, which I am only beginning to find photos of on the Internet and elsewhere.

If you live anywhere near Mass MOCA, go see this show. For me it was a life changing experience.


Threadpainter said...

Wow Roberta ... these are amazing paintings and the artist sounds very intriguing. I will definitely look him up. Love his colour scheme !

Olga Norris said...

Roberta, I'm delighted that you enjoyed the Kiefer exhibition. I wonder if it is the same one which is coming to London in September - I am greatly looking forward to that.
I am an admirer of Kiefer's work and have been so for several years now. Like you I had only seen his work in reproduction until 1997 when I saw an exhibition. Like you I was blown away.
I was lucky enough to see some of his great lead books at an exhibition of artists' books in London some years ago entitled Blood on Paper. There is an irritating overview film which shows frustrating glimpses of Kiefer's books as well as those in the rest of the show here:
Here is another link you might like:
and another here:

Olga Norris said...

I see now that the works you have are a permanent installation - lucky you!